Daily News Archive
to Agricultural Pesticides Linked to Female Infertility
(Beyond Pesticides, September 5, 2003) According to the
Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter, a recent study released September
3 shows that women who handle pesticides or fungicides in the two-year
period before trying to have a baby significantly increase their chances
of infertility. The researchers at Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation
found that infertile women were 27 more times likely to have mixed and
applied such chemicals than women who had become pregnant, according to
chief researcher Anne Greenlee.
The exposure to many farm chemicals can affect a woman's production of
eggs and how they mature and can influence whether an embryo can implant.
"Women contemplating pregnancy and who may be exposed to pesticides
on the job should consider precautions such as respirators, gloves and
protective clothing to reduce unintentional exposures," Dr. Greenlee
told the Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter.
The study, which began in 1997, involved 644 women ages 18 to 35, mostly
from central Wisconsin, who had either sought treatment at Marshfield
Clinic for infertility or sought prenatal care because they were in their
first trimester of pregnancy and had conceived in less than 12 months
of trying. The study included 233 women who lived on a farm, ranch or
a rural home, she said. The rest lived in cities or villages. About 100
women in the study handled pesticides or fungicides, some in growing plants
or gardens. For the two years before a couple began trying to conceive
a child, the study identified mixing and applying herbicides and using
fungicides as an occupational risk to becoming pregnant.
The study also found the following three lifestyle choices played a role:
steadily gaining weight during adult life, which can affect the cycling
of female hormones; exposure to passive cigarette smoke one to five hours
a week, which can influence egg quality and whether the egg can be fertilized;
and, having a male partner older than 41, which can affect sperm and semen
The entire story is available at the Manitowoc
Herald Times Reporter
website. The abstract is available at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.