Child Brain Abnormalities May Be Linked to Pesticide Exposure in the Womb

Brain injuries that affect children are particularly damaging, because they often dictate certain aspects of the rest of the child’s life. Like everyone else, babies and young children are capable of suffering a traumatic brain injury in car accidents, falls, and similar incidents. In addition, newborns also face brain injuries as a result of problems during their mother’s pregnancy and delivery.

When injuries arise during labor it can sometimes be caused by mistakes made by medical professionals. In many other cases the brain injury develops well before the delivery, while the child is growing inside the mother’s womb. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the harm was not preventable. That is because we now know a great deal about how certain actions and exposures for a mother during pregnancy affect the child’s development. Each Chicago brain injury lawyer at our firm knows that as information about risks of conduct and exposure is uncovered, those in a position to lessen the harm should take reasonable steps to do so.

For example, last week Business Week wrote about a new study that seemed to conclusively show that exposure to a pesticide chemical known as chlorpyrifos led to developmental brain injuries in children in utero. The research was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The research effort involved taking MRI scans of children whose mothers had been exposed to increased levels of the chemical. What the researchers found was that the children who had been exposed were more likely to have certain brain abnormalities when compared with children whose mothers were not exposed. The brain abnormalities were found in various parts of the children’s brain, including areas related to language, attention, emotions, and reward systems.

The researchers are not yet sure if certain treatments can be provided to help those children who were over-exposed. However, considered some of the issues are structural changes in the brain, reversing any of the abnormalities is unlikely. In any event, the Illinois brain injury lawyers at our firm appreciate that this sort of research is yet another reminder of the need to be aware of these types of exposures and their related risks.

The particular chemical at issue is used in a Dow Chemcial Company pesticide known as Dursban. The pesticide has not been allowed in residential areas for ten years. However, it is still in use in certain rural, agricultural areas. Mothers living in those locations may still be affected by the exposure. That being the case, mothers who suspect that this might be an issue should take steps to ensure that their exposure is limited as much as possible during the pregnancy.

For their part, a representative from Dow admitted that the study breaks new ground. However, they dispute that any conclusively findings can be taken from the research. They suggest that testing on animals exposed to far higher levels of the chemical showed no adverse affects, and so the consequences for the children might be connected to some outside, unknown variable.

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