Last month, researchers from Columbia University added another study to the existing body of evidence linking adverse health effects caused by pesticides.

Published in the journal Pediatricslast month, researchers found 94 percent of the 1,139 children tested had detectable levels of organophosphate pesticides in their urine. More importantly, the children with the higher levels also had elevated risk of having ADHD.

In 2007, scientists from the California Public Health Department found pregnant women living near fields sprayed with organochlorine pesticides increased their risk of having a child with autism, a far more debilitating disorder. Although the California study was a relatively small one, it confirmed similar findings by Italian researchers in 2005.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), laboratory studies have found pesticides can cause a number of health problems including, cancer, birth defects, and nerve damage. http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/food/risks.htm

Several years ago, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) issued a report - Overexposed: Organophosphate Insecticides in Children's Food - that found "every day, one million American children age five and younger consume unsafe levels of a class of pesticides that can harm the developing brain and nervous system," primarily from fruit, vegetables and baby food.

But there is some good news. Health conscious consumers can use their purchasing power to protect their children from pesticide residue and perhaps prevent the serious health problems associated with this class of harmful chemicals.

Two years ago, researchers at Emory University studied children who consumed only organic fruits and vegetable and found the level of pesticides residue detected in their urine had dropped to undetectable or almost undetectable levels.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of purchasing organically grown fruits and vegetables whenever you can. In addition to being better for your overall health, organic foods are one way to reduce the body burden of dangerous pesticides and food additives.

Is it necessary to fill your shopping cart with only organic products? Of course not. But choosing organic fruits and veggies is an easy way to avoid the health risks caused by pesticides and give your family a safer, more nutritious diet.

For more information, including a list of the 12 most important produce items to buy organic, visit http://www.dienviro.com/index1.aspx?BD=18113

Deirdre Imus is the Founder and President of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology (r) at Hackensack University Medical Center and Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer. Deirdre is the author of four books, including three national bestsellers. She is a frequent speaker on green living and children's health issues, and is a contributor to FoxNewsHealth.com. For more information go to www.dienviro.com

Deirdre Imus, Founder of the site devoted to environmental health, www.ImusEnvironmentalHealth.org, is President and Founder of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health CenterĀ® at Hackensack University Medical Center and Co-Founder/Co-Director of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer. She is a New York Times best-selling author and a frequent contributor to FoxNewsHealth.com, and Fox Business Channel. Check out her website at www.ImusEnvironmentalHealth.org. Follow her on Twitter@TheGreenDirt and 'like' her Facebook page here.