Neurocognitive, Mental Health, and Glucose Disorders in Farmers Exposed to Organophosphorus Pesticides

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About 25 million agricultural workers in the developing world suffer from at least one episode of poisoning each year, mainly by anticholinesterase-like organophosphates (OPs). The objective of this cross-sectional study was to establish the OP toxicity in 187 occupationally exposed farmers in terms of neurocognitive impairment, mental health status, clinical symptoms, diabetes, and haematological factors. The exposed group was compared to 187 healthy age-, sex-, and education-matching controls. Neurocognitive impairment was measured using the Subjective Neurocognition Inventory (SNI) and mental health status using the General Health Questionnaire-28 (GHQ-28). The subjects were also tested for fasting blood glucose (FBG), blood urea nitrogen (BUN), cholesterol (CL), triglycerides (TG), creatinine, oral glucose tolerance test (GTT), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), and alkaline phosphatase (ALP). The exposed farmers showed higher FBG (p<0.001), BUN (p=0.007), CL (p<0.001), oral GTT (p<0.001), and lower AST (p<0.001), ALP (p<0.001), and creatinine (p=0.004) than controls. The rates of anxiety/ insomnia and severe depression were also significantly higher in the farmers than in controls (p=0.015 and p<0.001, respectively). Meanwhile, the rate of social dysfunction was significantly lower than in controls (p<0.001). Disorders affecting psychomotor speed, selective attention, divided attention, verbal memory, nonverbal memory, prospective memory, spatial functioning, and initiative/energy were all lower in the farmers (p<0.001). Farmers showed clinical symptoms eczema, saliva secretion, fatigue, headache, sweating, abdominal pain, nausea, superior distal muscle weakness, inferior distal muscle weakness, inferior proximal muscle weakness, breath muscle weakness, hand tingling, foot tingling, epiphoria, polyuria, miosis, dyspnoea, bradycardia, and rhinorrhoea, which all significantly correlated with the number of working years. These findings indicate that farmers who work with OPs are prone to neuropsychological disorders and diabetes.

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