Organic food may be best for kids, pediatricians say

Organic, babies! The American Academy of Pediatrics is weighing in for the first time on the conventional vs. organic debate. Its verdict? An “extensive analysis of scientific evidence,” it says, suggests that kids who eat organic produce, dairy, and meat “have lower pesticide levels, which may be significant for children.” From NPR’s The Salt blog:

The pediatricians are worried because babies of female farm workers in California showed small but significant developmental and motor delays when their mothers were exposed to pesticides at levels similar to those deemed acceptable in conventionally grown produce while pregnant.   No studies have been done to see if exposure to similar levels of pesticides from simply eating produce would cause similar problems. But since early childhood exposure to lead and other toxins at very low levels is now known to be harmful, the pediatricians think caution is in order. “Clearly if you eat organic produce, you have fewer pesticides in your body,” Joel Forman, an associate professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and a lead author of the new report, tells The Salt. That’s particularly important for young children, he says, because they are especially vulnerable to chemical exposure while their brains are developing.

This all comes hot on the heels of that recent Stanford study that found “little evidence” of health benefits from organic foods.

The pediatricians disagreed big time with Stanford University scientists who last month reported that since conventional foods usually didn’t exceed federal limits for pesticide residue, buying organic didn’t really matter. … The docs do agree with the Stanford scientists that organically raised meat and poultry is more likely to be free of contamination with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Conventionally-raised livestock is often fed antibiotics to stimulate growth, but large-scale use is considered a key cause for the rise of deadly resistant strains. They are calling for more studies on this.

The biggest thing the docs are worried about? That many families can’t afford the necessary amounts of fruits and vegetables to feed their kids at all. Conventional produce still has the vitamins and minerals kids need, and in a better source than a Flintstones Chewable. Organic may not be elitist, but those price tags can still be rather intimidating.


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