Pesticides In The Diet: 10 Dangerous Foods For Pregnant Women And Children

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Discover the foods that hide an invisible threat: pesticides. Learn to choose wisely to safeguard the health of your family .

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The Woman Post | Julieta Gutiérrez

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Leer en español: Pesticidas en la alimentación: 10 alimentos peligrosos para mujeres embarazadas y niños

The presence of pesticides in food is a growing concern, especially for pregnant women and children. According to reports from the World Health Organization (WHO), today more than 1000 pesticides are currently used on all crops worldwide. These chemicals, utilized to protect crops from pests and diseases, can have long-term adverse effects on human health.

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In this article, we will explore foods that contain pesticides and their impact on pregnant women and children. Additionally, we will provide a list of foods with high levels of pesticides, emphasizing the need to make informed decisions to reduce exposure to these compounds and promote healthier and safer eating habits.

1. Tomatoes

Tomatoes, cherished for their flavor and culinary versatility, unfortunately, rank among the foods with high levels of pesticides. Due to their vulnerability to pests and diseases, they are often treated with chemicals for crop protection. These substances can leave residues on tomatoes, even after washing and cooking. Scientific studies have found that prenatal exposure to certain pesticides present in tomatoes is associated with developmental delays and cognitive deficits in children. Furthermore, long-term pesticide exposure has been linked to an increased risk of pregnancy complications, such as preterm birth and low birth weight.

2. Apples

Apples are known to be a powerhouse of nutrients. However, they are on the list of foods with high levels of pesticides, since the cultivation of these fruits requires the intensive use of these types of compounds to control pests and diseases. These chemicals can leave residues on the skin and flesh of the apples. It was shown that the non-organic residues in these fruits can negatively affect the neurological development of children, contributing to cognitive delays and learning disorders.

Additionally, exposure to high levels of certain pesticides in apples is associated in scientific studies with an increased risk of pregnancy complications, such as low birth weight, neurodevelopmental delays, and autism spectrum disorders in offspring. For this reason, it is recommended to opt for organic apples or properly wash and peel conventional apples.

3. Strawberries

Although strawberries are very appetizing, they are not spared from being treated with chemicals during their cultivation. Several scientific studies found pesticide residues in strawberries and associated pesticide exposure with increased risk of developmental problems and hormonal disruptions in children. Specifically, an association was observed between pesticide exposure in strawberries and adverse effects on reproductive health, such as decreased semen quality in men and menstrual cycle disorders in women.

4. Spinach

Spinach is susceptible to pests like aphids and worms, which necessitates the use of pesticides during cultivation. These chemicals can persist on spinach leaves even after washing. Long-term pesticide exposure to spinach has been associated with potential neurodevelopmental effects in children, including cognitive delays and learning disorders. Additionally, the American Environmental Working Group (EWG) has reported that 97% of spinach samples have high concentrations of permethrin, which may lead to a higher number of complications during pregnancy, such as delayed neurological development in the baby.

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5. Grapes

Grapes are treated with various pesticides to protect them from fungal diseases and pests. Studies have detected pesticide residues on grapes, and prenatal exposure to some of these chemicals has been linked to an increased risk of neurological and behavioral problems in children.

6. Cherries

According to a 2018 analysis by EWG, 30% of cherry samples contained pesticides, with up to five different types found on conventional cherries. Exposure to the pesticides in cherries can have adverse effects on pregnant women.

7. Peppers

Peppers are susceptible to pest attacks, leading to the application of pesticides. Pesticide residues were detected in the peppers, and long-term exposure to these chemicals is associated is associated with potencial effects on child development.

8. Cucumbers

Cucumbers are treated with pesticides to protect them from pests and diseases. Studies reveal pesticide residues on cucumbers, and exposure to these chemicals is linked to an increased risk of hormone disruption in children.

9. Peaches

Peaches are also treated with pesticides to protect them from pests and diseases. Studies have found pesticide residues on peaches, and prenatal exposure to certain pesticides has been linked to impaired child development and neurological disorders.

10. Potatoes 

Potatoes, being prone to pests and diseases, often contain pesticide residues, which can affect the health of children and pregnant women. Scientific studies found an association between exposure to pesticides in potatoes and risks such as neurodevelopmental delays, cognitive deficits, and learning disorders in children.

To ensure a healthy and pesticide-free diet for children and pregnant women, it is recommended to opt for organic fruits and vegetables, which can mostly be found in local markets , such as apples, grapes, pineapples, carrots, and broccoli. These foods offer essential nutrients without the pesticide residues present in conventional varieties. Also, including foods such as whole grains, legumes and lean proteins, such as organic chicken or wild fish, can provide a balanced and healthy diet, thus protecting the health of the whole family.