A new study aims to prove that children who are exposed to pesticides at home are more likely to develop lymphoma or leukemia.
A team of researchers from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston looked at 16 different studies carried out since 1993 until 2013, which took into account the impact insecticides had on children’s risk of developing blood cancer. Indoor insecticides had the highest influence, while weed killers had a much lower impact.
The results revealed that children who had been exposed to indoor pesticides had up to 47 percent higher risk of suffering from leukemia or lymphoma, while weed killers increased their chances of developing blood cancer by 26 percent.
However, it remains uncertain whether chemical pesticides also contribute to the development of blood cancer.
“We don’t know ‘how much’ exposure it takes, or if there’s a critical window in development. Is the window during pregnancy? Or even before pregnancy? That will take a much deeper investigation,” said lead study author Chensheng Lu, who is an associate professor of environmental exposure biology at Harvard.
In spite of the fact that further research is needed, Lu warns that parents should be aware of the risk and do whatever it takes to limit kids’ exposure to harmful chemicals.
Other health experts, such as Dr. Ziad Khatib, who is a pediatric oncologist working at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, said that most cancers that occur with children are often due to chance, they “just happen”, and they hardly have anything to do with lifestyle choices, as is the case with adults.
Even if he was not involved in the study, Khatib also added that the findings of the review are quite plausible, because chemicals can have a negative impact on people’s health in general and particularly on children, whose immune system is not very strong: “We should always be cautious about exposing young children to any toxic chemicals. It just makes sense,” he said.
On the bright side, childhood cancer is very rare, affecting a bit over 10,000 children every year in the United States. The most common types remain lymphoma and leukemia.
Lu believes that parents and authorities should have access to this information and avoid using pesticides to limit the risk, if there is one.
The results of the study were published in the newest issue of the journal Pediatrics, on September 14.
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