In this study, researchers from the University of California, San Diego and the University of Minnesota examined the association of time following a heightened agricultural production period – the Mother's Day flower harvest in May – with children's blood pressure. Their findings were published in the journal Environmental Research.
Agricultural pesticide spray periods increase pesticide exposure for children living nearby. Studies show that pesticide exposure has an adverse effect on children's health.
The researchers included cross-sectional information of 313 children aged 4-9 in Ecuadorian agricultural communities (the ESPINA study). They conducted their examination during a period of low flower production but within 63-100 days following the Mother's Day harvest.
They used a pediatric sphygmomanometer to measure the children's blood pressure twice. They also calculated percentiles appropriate for age, gender and height.
The researchers reported that the participants were 51 percent male, 1.6 percent hypertensive and 7.7 percent had elevated blood pressure.
The mean blood pressure percentiles were 51.7 for systolic and 33.3 for diastolic.
After adjusting for race, heart rate and BMI-for-age z-score, the researchers observed an inverse relationship between the time after the spray season and percentiles of systolic and diastolic BP. They also observed a curvilinear association with diastolic BP.
The researchers reported that the blood pressure of children examined sooner after the pesticide spray period was higher than those examined later.
They also found an increased risk of hypertension/pre-hypertension in children examined sooner.
In addition, time after the spray season was positively associated with acetylcholinesterase.
Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that a heightened pesticide spray period increases blood pressure and the expression of pesticide exposure markers in children.
Suarez-Lopez JR, Amchich F, Murillo J, Denenberg J. BLOOD PRESSURE AFTER A HEIGHTENED PESTICIDE SPRAY PERIOD AMONG CHILDREN LIVING IN AGRICULTURAL COMMUNITIES IN ECUADOR. Environmental Research. August 2019;175:335–342. DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2019.05.030