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Environ Health Perspect. 1998 Jun;106(6):347-53.

An anthropological approach to the evaluation of preschool children exposed to pesticides in Mexico.

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Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.


In this comparative study, we compensated for many of the known variables that influence children's growth and development by selecting two groups of 4-5-year-old Yaqui children who reside in the Yaqui Valley of northwestern Mexico. These children share similar genetic backgrounds, diets, water mineral contents, cultural patterns, and social behaviors. The major difference was their exposure to pesticides. Pesticides have been applied to the agricultural area of the valley since the late 1940s. In 1990, high levels of multiple pesticides were found in the cord blood of newborns and in breast milk. Building on anthropological methods for rapid rural appraisal of problems within the environment, a Rapid Assessment Tool for Preschool Children (RATPC) was developed to measure growth and development. The children of the agrarian region were compared to children living in the foothills, where pesticide use is avoided. The RATPC measured varied aspects of physical growth and abilities to perform, or function in, normal childhood activities. No differences were found in growth patterns. Functionally, the exposed children demonstrated decreases in stamina, gross and fine eye-hand coordination, 30-minute memory, and the ability to draw a person. The RATPC also pointed out areas in which more in-depth research on the toxicology of pesticides would be valuable.

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