When it comes to what causes some mental health disorders, like autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), scientists are still in the dark. However, they do know conditions like these are caused in part by genetics, and in other parts, by the environment. A new study shows how the environment can cause ADHD, by finding an association between its development and exposure to a common household pesticide.

When a team investigated this link, they found children exposed to pyrethroid pesticides like deltamethrin in utero or while breastfeeding were more likely to exhibit signs of ADHD, such as hyperactivity, problems with working memory, impulsivity, and attention deficits. Many of these problems, it seems, emerged from imbalances in the kids’ brains’ dopamine signaling systems, which are responsible for these processes as well as being motivated.

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