Clinical and Biochemical Parameters of Children and Adolescents Applying Pesticides

A Ismail, D Rohlman, G Abdel Rasoul, M Abou Salem, O Hendy

Abstract


Background: The primary agricultural product in Egypt is the cotton crop. Children and adolescents work seasonally in the cotton fields applying pesticides.

Objectives: To examine the effect of pesticide exposure on clinical and biochemical parameters in children and adolescents applying pesticides.

Methods: Male children currently applying pesticides and aged between 9 and 19 years (n = 50) were recruited for this study. They were asked to complete work, health, and exposure questionnaires; examined for any medical and neurological problems with particular attention to sensory and motor functions including cranial nerves, sensory and motor system, and reflexes. From each participant, a blood sample was taken to measure acetylcholinesterase activity, and liver and kidney functions. Children who have never worked in agriculture (n = 50), matched on age, education, and socioeconomic status were also studied and served as controls.

Results: More neuromuscular disorders were identified in pesticide applicators than controls. A significant lower level of acetylcholinesterase was found in the applicator group compared to the controls. There was also a significant difference in hematological, renal and hepatic indices in the exposed children compared to the control children. Working more days in the current season and also working more years as a pesticide applicator were both associated with an increase in the prevalence of neuromuscular abnormalities and significant changes in the laboratory tests.

Conclusion: Children and adolescent pesticide applicators working in farms of Egypt are at risk of developing serious health problems similar to those of adults.


Keywords


Neurologic manifestations; Adolescent; Pesticides; Biochemical processes; Seasonal applicators; Acetylcholinesterase

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 pISSN: 2008-6520
 eISSN: 2008-6814

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