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1 de mayo de 2012
Prenatal Exposure to Insecticide Chlorpyrifos Linked to Alterations in Brain Structure and Cognition
(Apr. 30, 2012) — While chlorpyrifos is no longer registered for household use
in the US, it continues to be widely used around the world, as well as on many
food and agricultural products throughout the US.
Even low to
moderate levels of exposure to the insecticide chlorpyrifos during pregnancy
may lead to long-term, potentially irreversible changes in the brain structure
of the child, according to a new brain imaging study by researchers from the
Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health at the Mailman School of
Public Health, Duke University Medical Center, Emory University, and the New
York State Psychiatric Institute. The changes in brain structure are consistent
with cognitive deficits found in children exposed to this chemical.
study is the first to use MRI to identify the structural evidence for these
cognitive deficits in humans, confirming earlier findings in animals. Changes
were visible across the surface of the brain, with abnormal enlargement of some
areas and thinning in others. The disturbances in brain structure are
consistent with the IQ deficits previously reported in the children with high
exposure levels of chlorpyrifos, or CPF, suggesting a link between prenatal
exposure to CPF and deficits in IQ and working memory at age 7.
also reports evidence that CPF may eliminate or reverse the male-female
differences that are ordinarily present in the brain. Further study is needed
to determine the consequences of these changes before and after puberty, the
the brain abnormalities appeared to occur at exposure levels below the current
EPA threshold for toxicity, which is based on exposures high enough to inhibit
the action of the key neurological enzyme cholinesterase. The present findings
suggest that the mechanism underlying structural changes in the brain may
involve other pathways.
to the lead author, Virginia Rauh, ScD, Professor at the Mailman School of
Public Health and Deputy Director of the Columbia Center for Children's
Environmental Health, "By measuring a biomarker of CPF exposure during
pregnancy, and following the children prospectively from birth into middle childhood,
the present study provides evidence that the prenatal period is a vulnerable
time for the developing child, and that toxic exposure during this critical
period can have far-reaching effects on brain development and behavioral
brain imaging and community-based research, we now have much stronger evidence
linking exposure to chlorpyrifos with neurodevelopmental problems," adds
senior author Bradley S. Peterson, MD, Chief of Child & Adolescent
Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute, and Director of MRI Research
in the Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center.
current study, the researchers used MRI to evaluate the brains of 40 New York
City children, ages 5 to 11, whose mothers were enrolled prenatally in a larger
cohort study. Researchers compared 20 children with high exposures to CPF with
20 children with lower exposures; all exposures occurred prior to the EPA ban
on household use of the chemical in 2001. They found brain anomalies were
associated with the higher exposure.
2001 ban, a drop in residential exposure levels of CPF has been documented by
Robin Whyatt, DrPH, a co-author on the present study and Professor of Clinical
Environmental Health Sciences and Co-Deputy Director of the Columbia Center for
Children's Environmental Health at the Mailman School. However, the chemical
continues to be present in the environment through its widespread use in
agriculture (food and feed crops), wood treatments, and public spaces such as
golf courses, some parks, and highway medians. People near these sources can be
exposed by inhaling the chemical, which drifts on the wind. Low-level exposure
can also occur by eating fruits and vegetables that have been sprayed. Although
the chemical is degraded rapidly by water and sunlight outdoors, it has been
detected by the Columbia researchers in many urban residences years after the
ban went into effect.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
For further information, please contact the source cited above.
1.Virginia A. Rauh, Frederica P. Perera,
Megan K. Horton, Robin M. Whyatt, Ravi Bansal, Xuejun Hao, Jun Liu, Dana Boyd
Barr, Theodore A. Slotkin, and Bradley S. Peterson. Brain
anomalies in children exposed prenatally to a common organophosphate pesticide. PNAS, April 2012 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1203396109