If pesticides kill insects, can they harm your child too? Three landmark studies recently converged suggesting that organophosphates, the chemical found commonly in pesticides, may be linked to an increased likelihood of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and a lower IQ in kids.

In one study published in Pediatrics, 1139 children ages 8 to 15 had their urine tested for traces of organophosphate pesticides. The children’s parents were then interviewed to ascertain whether they had been diagnosed with ADHD. Surprisingly, kids with high levels of the pesticide in their urine were significantly more likely to have ADHD. In other research, school-age children who had been exposed to high levels of pesticides while in the womb tested a whopping seven points lower IQ than children with low-level exposure.

“These reports further substantiate a report from Harvard University last year, indicating that organophosphate exposure, at levels common among US children, may contribute to ADHD prevalence,” reports Organic Connections magazine.

How to reduce contact with pesticides? Well, it may be difficult. While preventing children (and pets for that matter) from playing in a recently-sprayed area is a no-brainer, pesticides are often sprayed in schools and other public areas—sometimes without notice. The best defense is to maintain a diet abundant in antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables to strengthen natural defenses against harmful effects. Furthermore, researchers from the University of Washington concluded that an organic diet may even clear pesticides from children’s bodies.

Read more in Organic Connections.