Ask the Experts

Pesticide Exposure and ADHD

“Do the pesticides and other chemicals found in non-organic foods affect my ADHD symptoms?”

There is good evidence that pesticide exposure will increase the likelihood of a child having ADHD. In one study1 of more than 1,100 children, those with higher levels of pesticides in their urine were more than twice as likely to have ADHD as those with lower levels. So far, however, we do not have research to show that decreasing pesticide exposure will improve ADHD symptoms in children or adults who already have ADHD.

My recommendation for those with ADHD is to limit pesticide exposure as much as possible. Buy organic food, especially fruits and vegetables, if you can afford it. Avoid foods with the highest levels of pesticides. You can find that information at

1 Bouchard, M. F., et al. “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Urinary Metabolites of Organophosphate Pesticides.” Pediatrics, vol. 125, no. 6, 2010, doi:10.1542/peds.2009-3058.

2 Comments & Reviews

  1. We need to be careful about how we read and present scientific studies. Correlation does not mean causation. If you read the conclusion in the study cited in this article, it states: “These findings support the hypothesis that organophosphate exposure, at levels common among US children, may contribute to ADHD prevalence. Prospective studies are needed to establish whether this association is causal.” There has been no casual relationship found between pesticides and ADHD.

  2. Since I moved to an agricultural area about 5 years ago, the adhd I experience has gotten so much worse every summer. I have to wonder if I’m being slowly poisoned and my brain destroyed a bit more each growing season? I think it’s time to get a water filter in my house!!

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