All pesticides are toxic to a certain degree and present risks to babies and children.
The risk depends on the type of pesticide, its toxicity and the length of time a child is exposed to it. Early exposure, even to low doses of certain pesticides, can present real risks to the health of a growing body in that, compared to an adult, a child does not yet have efficient systems with which to detoxify organs and tissues, For most children, food is the greatest form of exposure, considering that unfortunately, due to the widespread use of pesticides in conventional farming, it is increasingly common for a single food to contain a multi-residue, or rather the simultaneous presence of a number of pesticide residues.
The intestinal microbiota is directly involved in this exposure to pesticides which, on reaching the intestine, can cause the bacterial species present to alter, thus modifying the permeability of the intestinal barrier. This is why the microbiota plays a key role in modulating the toxicity of pesticides, in that it is here that a large part of the pesticides are metabolised. For example, some experiments on the animal model have shown that chlorpyrifos, a very toxic insecticide that is widely used on crops, and so present as a residue on fruit and vegetables, can encourage obesity and a resistance to insulin by modifying the composition of the microbiota and, in particular, lowering the number of bifidobacterium and lactobicillus, which are initially the best represented species in the microbiota of a growing child, increasing the level of clostridia. These alterations cause a dysbiosis which, in turn, influences the risk of allergy-related illnesses in both children and adults, particularly atopic eczema and asthma. Some studies have shown that an increase in clostridia and a reduction in bifidobacterium in the intestinal microbiota of nursing infants has led to the appearance of atopic illnesses at the age of 2. In light of this, it is very important to reduce the risk of contaminants in a child’s diet by choosing foods that have been grown without the use of pesticides. Various studies carried out on children have shown how going from a diet based on conventional foods to one comprising solely organic foodstuffs can be effective in reducing the quantity of pesticides, including chlorpyrifos, in the urine, proving that production methods play a key role in the exposure to pesticides through food.
Particularly at the end of breast feeding, the move to more varied, solid foods is considered a key moment in the formation of a child's microbiota, a time that sees an increase in biodiversity, necessary for their health. The fibre in fruit, vegetables and cereals is essential for growth and this is why it’s important to ensure that foods are healthy, organic and without pesticides, so as to also guarantee additional antioxidants and vitamins.