Complicating the DDT Debate

July 13, 2006

Epidemiologists at UC Berkeley have found evidence that children exposed to DDT in utero face an increased risk of mental and physical developmental delays. Their findings have profound implications for the current international debate over the use of indoor residual spraying with DDT to control malaria (heavily advocated by Roger Bate, among others, and disputed by Tim Lambert). The study's authors caution that:

The benefit of using DDT to control malaria should be balanced carefully against the potential risk to children's neurodevelopment. Whenever possible, alternative antimalarial controls should be considered, especially in areas where pregnant women and children may be exposed.
There has been increasing U.S. political attention to DDT usage - led by Senator Brownback - and it has been incorporated as a major component of the new President's Malaria Initiative, so it will be interesting to see if and how this study informs the ongoing policy discussion.


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