The pesticide widely used to fight Zika-carrying mosquitoes in Florida and across the nation has been linked to deficits in motor functions in Chinese babies, according to a new study.
The study, whose authors say it is the first to examine real-world exposure to naled outside workplace accidents or lab experiments, used cord blood from 237 mothers who gave birth to healthy babies at a hospital in southeast China between 2008 and 2011. At six weeks, the babies displayed no problems. But at nine months, the babies suffered from slight problems with coordination, movement and other motor functions.
The University of Michigan researchers found that children in China who had the highest prenatal exposure to naled had, at age 9 months, 3% to 4% lower scores on tests of their fine motor skills, which are the small movements of hands, fingers, face, mouth and feet, compared with those with the lowest exposure.
This is the first general-population study of the insecticide chemical, the researchers said. Previous research into the chemical’s effects on humans has occurred only in occupational and agricultural settings, where the subjects were exposed to much higher amounts of the chemical for longer amounts of time than residents living in neighborhoods where it is used.
Those neighborhoods include areas of Miami where naled has been used this year as part of routine mosquito control and was used last year in an effort to halt local transmission of the Zika virus. But naled has been used for many years to control mosquitoes, according to the Miami-Dade County Department of Solid Waster Management’s Mosquito Control Section.
Naled is a fast acting, non-systemic contact and stomach poison in insects and mites. It is used as a short-term fumigant to control agricultural pests on ornamentals in greenhouses, animal and poultry houses, kennels and food processing plants