Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides

Children and Pesticide Poisoning

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HealthWiki > A Community Guide to Environmental Health > Chapter 14: Pesticides Are Poison > Children and Pesticide Poisoning


Pesticides are more dangerous to children than they are to adults. Because children are smaller and are still growing, they get sick from amounts of pesticides that may not hurt adults. Amounts of pesticides that will make adults sick may kill babies and children.

As a worker sprays crops with pesticide, it blows back over 3 children playing.

Signs of pesticide poisoning in children

Even small doses of pesticides can affect a child’s ability to learn and grow, and may cause allergies and breathing problems that last his whole life.

Common signs of pesticide poisoning in children are:

  • tiredness
  • diarrhea
  • pain in the stomach
  • skin rashes
  • coughing fits
  • seizures (“fits”)
    and shaking
  • unconsciousness
A baby lying on a mat.



Signs that may show up months or years after a child is exposed to chemicals include:

  • allergies
  • breathing problems
  • difficulty learning
  • slow growth
  • cancer
  • other health problems
    may be made worse

Pesticides can also cause birth defects. For more on how toxic chemicals affect children, see How Chemicals Harm Children.


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