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Extramural Research

Prenatal Exposure to CPF Possibly Linked to IQ and Memory deficits in Children

The U.S. EPA funded Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Research Center at Columbia University has published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) showing that even moderate prenatal exposure to the insecticide chrlorpyrifos (CPF) may cause long-term changes in brain structure of a child. These structural changes may be the cause of the impaired cognition including lower IQ and memory impairment as well as endocrine system disruptions.

The study, the first to use MRI to examine the brain structure of humans exposed to CPF, showed enlargement and thinning of different areas across the surface of the brain, confirming what earlier animal tests had shown. The changes occurred even when exposure was well below the currently defined toxic threshold.

Chrlorpyrifos has been banned from household products since 2001; however the chemical is still widely used in agriculture, on parks and golf courses, and on highway meridians. Exposure can come from inhaling the chemical or from ingestion of non-organic fruits and vegetables. EPA,  committed to supporting children’s environmental health, has in a joint program with NIEHS, awarded research grants establishing over a dozen Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Research Centers around the country. Scientists at these centers work to understand how everything from vehicle exhaust and air pollution to diet and social factors impact children’s health. Their research is a key component in the EPA’s long-term campaign to improve the lives of children around the nation.

Press Release: Prenatal Exposure to Insecticide Chlorpyrifos Linked to Alterations in Brain Structure and Cognition exit EPA

PNAS published article: Brain anomalies in children exposed prenatally to a common organophosphate pesticide (PDF) (6 pp, 751K) exit EPA

For more info on this research see:
Centers of Excellence in Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research
Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health
The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health

For more info on the Columbia and Other Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Research Centers

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