Study Says Pesticide Exposure May Increase the Risk of Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Study Says Pesticide Exposure May Increase the Risk of Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Environmental exposure to insecticides appears to be more common and more dangerous than previously accounted for. New research indicates that exposure to certain types of common pesticides may pose a threat to the brain development of children in the womb. Thus far, it has been linked to conditions like autism and ADHD, which can have a profound impact on a child’s academic career, job prospects, and emotional health.

Claims against pesticide manufacturers may be forthcoming, so if you believe that your child was exposed to pesticides like Raid or Ortho while in the womb and they have neurodevelopmental delays or conditions, you should consult a personal injury attorney. They will be able to offer you insight into what the claims process entails and explain how compensation works.

Researchers Issue Warning About Prenatal Exposure to Pesticides 

Based on a report published by researchers from Emory University and the University of Toledo, there is evidence to suggest that children who are exposed to pesticides in utero may be at a greater risk for developing chronic neurodevelopmental conditions. They claim that pyrethroid pesticides, which are found in products like Raid and Ortho, are not as safe as the public has been led to believe. These conclusions were drawn based on an experiment conducted using pregnant mice.

They exposed groups of pregnant mice to deltamethrin, a pyrethroid insecticide that is used to set the EPA standard for levels of pyrethroids allowed in other pesticides. They observed that the offspring of the pregnant mice had behavioral and learning issues that are indicators of autism. For example, the offspring who were exposed to the pesticide in utero struggled to meet learning goals and exhibited repetitive behaviors as compared to the control group.

Additionally, researchers note that avoiding exposure to pyrethroid pesticides is difficult as pesticides frequently enter the water supply in runoff. According to their data, over 70% of Americans have pyrethroid in their systems, which indicates frequent exposure because the chemical breaks down quickly. Considering the potential of pesticides to cause developmental delays or issues and the likelihood of frequent exposure, parents should exercise caution.

Chemicals Used to Bolster Agriculture Industry May Contribute to Neurological Issues

The agriculture industry depends on chemical products to eliminate bugs, eradicate weeds, and increase productivity. In addition to using pesticides like Raid, many farming operations utilize herbicides to keep weeds in check. One of the most commonly used weed killers, paraquat, is being investigated for potentially causing Parkinson’s disease. 

Plaintiffs in the paraquat lawsuits, who are mostly agricultural workers, argue that inhalation and absorption of low amounts of this product have caused them to develop the degenerative condition known as Parkinson’s disease. Similarly to the concerns being raised about pesticides, the injured party may not even realize that they have been exposed to dangerous levels of the defective product until the health symptoms begin to manifest.

Prenatal Exposure to Certain Chemicals Linked to Autism and ADHD

The behaviors exhibited in the study linking pesticides to health issues in children most closely align with autism and ADHD. Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition often characterized by difficulty speaking, socializing, and learning. Support needs differ by person, but in extreme cases, a persona with autism may require around-the-clock care. ADHD typically presents as an inability to focus, which can manifest as hyperactivity or inattentiveness. Children with ADHD may struggle to stay on task, avoid interrupting, and meet deadlines.

While no definitive cause has been identified,  the medical community is still studying what factors contribute to or cause neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism and ADHD. In many cases, they believe that there is an environmental component. Recently, researchers from Johns Hopkins published a report that supports existing research claiming that prenatal exposure to acetaminophen-based pain relief drugs like Tylenol is a potential trigger for autism and ADHD. 

Their findings showed that children who were exposed frequently to acetaminophen in utero have a 20% higher chance of developing autism, and as much as a 30% chance of developing ADHD. Parents are filing Tylenol autism lawsuits under the multidistrict litigation claiming that drug manufacturers were negligent in their duty to inform consumers of the risks of using their product while pregnant. If the evidence supporting the connection between pyrethroid pesticides and autism and ADHD continues to grow, pesticide manufacturers may soon be facing personal injury lawsuits for failure to warn.

Recovering Compensation in a Product Liability Claim

In order to receive compensation for damages in a product liability claim, the injured party has to establish that the defendant was liable. For parents pursuing a product liability claim against pesticide manufacturers, they would need to show that the manufacturers owed them a duty of care and breached that duty by producing a dangerous product and failing to warn the public about its risks. After liability is established, the plaintiff still has the responsibility of connecting their injuries to the breach of duty and demonstrating that the damages they are claiming are related to their injuries.

While no claims have been filed regarding this issue yet, parents who believe that they may have a legitimate case should diligently compile evidence to support their product liability claim. This includes documenting any damages they or their child sustain that are related to their child’s neurodevelopmental issues. These damages may take the form of financial losses, which can be compensated as economic damages, or intangible and emotional losses, which can be accounted for in the form of non-economic damages.

Examples of Damages in a Product Liability Claim:

  • Medication
  • Therapy
  • Lost wages
  • Reduced earning potential
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of quality of life

If you have reason to believe that your child’s autism, ADHD, or other neurodevelopmental disorder is linked to their prenatal exposure to pesticides, you may want to consider taking legal action to recover compensation for your damages. A personal injury lawyer who has a record of successfully settling product liability claims will have the skill set and knowledge base to help you navigate the claims process and ascertain if you have a valid case against a negligent pesticide manufacturer.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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