The use of pesticides for crop production has grown rapidly in Thailand during the last decade, resulting in significantly greater potential for exposure among children living on farms. Although some previous studies assessed exposures to pesticides in this population, no studies have been conducted to evaluate corresponding health effects. Twenty-four children from a rice farming community (exposed) and 29 from an aquaculture (shrimp) community (control) completed the study. Participants completed a neurobehavioral test battery three times at 6 month intervals: Session I: preliminary orientation; Session II: high pesticide use season; Session III: low pesticide-use season. Only sessions II and III were used in the analyses. High and low pesticide use seasons were determined by pesticide use on rice farms. Urinary metabolites of organophosphates (OPs) and pyrethroids (PYR) were analyzed from first morning void samples collected the day of neurobehavioral testing. Rice farm participants had significantly higher concentrations of dialkylphosphates (DAPs) (common metabolites of OPs) and TCPy (a specific metabolite of chlorpyrifos) than aquaculture farm children during both seasons. But, TCPy was significantly higher during the low rather than the high pesticide use season for both participant groups. Rice farm children had significantly higher DCCA, a metabolite of PYR, than aquaculture participants only during the high exposure season. Otherwise, no significant differences in PYR metabolites were noted between the participant groups or seasons. No significant adverse neurobehavioral effects were observed between participant groups during either the high or low pesticide use season. After controlling for differences in age and the Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment (HOME) scores, DAPs, TCPy, and PYR were not significant predictors of adverse neurobehavioral performance during either season. Increasing DAP and PYR metabolites predicted some relatively small improvement in latency of response. However, due to the small sample size and inability to characterize chronic exposure, any significant differences observed should be regarded with caution. Moreover although not statistically significant, confidence intervals suggest that small to moderate adverse effects of pesticide exposure cannot be ruled out for some indicators of neurobehavioral performance.
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