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Pesticides, Herbicides and Children

Pesticides represent a large group of chemical products (including herbicides) designed to kill or harm unwanted insects, plants, molds, and rodents. 

Pesticides are used in a variety of settings, including homes, schools, parks, lawns, gardens, and farms. While they may kill insects, rodents, and weeds, some are toxic to people when consumed in food and water.

More research is needed to determine the short- and long-term effects of pesticides on humans. Although some studies have found connections between some childhood cancers and an exposure to pesticides, other studies have not reached the same conclusions. Many pesticides disrupt the nervous system of insects, and research has shown that they have the potential to damage the neurological system of children.


Try to limit your child’s unnecessary exposure to pesticides. To reduce such exposure:

  • Minimize using foods in which chemical pesticides were used by farmers. 
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables with water before your child consumes them. 
  • For your own lawn and garden, use nonchemical pest control methods whenever possible. If you keep bottles of pesticides in your home or garage, make sure they’re out of the reach of children to avoid any accidental poisoning. 
  • Avoid routinely spraying homes or schools to prevent insect infestations.

For more information:

Last Updated
Adapted from Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age Five (Copyright © 2009 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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