Saw a story on NBC this morning in the waiting room at the doctor's office. It was about a study which "shows a connection" between kids who eat a lot of fruits and vegetables having traces of pesticides in their urine and displaying symptoms of "ADHD".
Now their chief medical correspondent who was being interviewed on the show was very careful to avoid saying it was a cause-effect relationship, but focused on the "connection" and brought up the "concern". She said, of course, that we should not stop feeding our kids fruits and vegetables.
But her recommendations were the same as one might expect from anti-corporate activists. Buy locally, buy organic, family farms didn't use pesticides (really???), and the interesting quasi-religious idea that if it's out of season, maybe you shouldn't be eating it.
Nancy Snyderman (the correspondent) didn't do the study. I looked her up to see if she was connected with one of these fronts for activist groups and found nothing (except that she went to High School with my wife! But I never take anything for granted from the media anymore. I know about press releases and journalists.) Seems to me that she's a physician turned physician/journalist. The study, it appears, came from a Maryse Bouchard (Harvard/University of Quebec) who specializes in the study of environmental epidemiology of neurobehavioral disorders.
Now maybe Maryse is right about the connection. But I have an academic background and I know a few things about scientific language and statistical studies. And of course, what is being said here is that there appears to be a relationship and not that there is a cause/effect relationship. But that's not the way it's being spun by our messianic media.
First note that apparently, we don't know what causes ADHD (disclosure: IMHO, it is caused by "diagnosis").
So I wonder if the study took this variable into account?
What else does it correlate with? What is the nature of the parenting of a child whose parents are hyper-reactive to the latest health and safety studies on what you should feed your child to provide optimum health? Are parents who feed their kids a lot of Healthy™ fruits and vegetables (now remember, I'm a big fan of fruits and vegetables myself) more likely to be the kind who fuss over every little thing? Might that "cause" ADHD? In other words, could the residual pesticide in fact be perfectly harmless to humans and the fact that kids who are fed more stuff that has these pesticides on them correlate with they type of parenting they are receiving, and is ADHD in fact a behavioral disorder brought about by sociological forces in homes that tend toward ... for lack of a better term, overparenting"?
Just a question. But I think a legitimate one.