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Pesticide-Induced Diseases: Birth / Fetal Effects

In 2005, the births of three babies born in Florida with severe birth defects to mothers who all worked for Ag-Mart Produce, a company that produces chemically-treated tomatoes and other agricultural products, brought the connection between birth defects and pesticide exposure into the public consciousness. Birth defects are structural or functional abnormalities present at birth that cause physical or mental disabilities, ranging from mild to fatal. Researchers have identified thousands of different types of birth defects. Currently, birth defects are the leading cause of death for infants during the first year of life.

  • Residential agricultural pesticide exposures and risk of selected congenital heart defects among offspring in the San Joaquin Valley of California.
    Study examined the potential association of congenital heart defects with residential proximity to commercial agricultural pesticide applications in the San Joaquin Valley, California. Study subjects included 569 heart defect cases and 785 non-malformed controls born from 1997 to 2006 whose mothers participated in a population-based case-control study. Associations with any versus no exposure to physicochemical groups of pesticides and specific chemicals were assessed using logistic regression adjusted for relevant covariates, for 8 heart defect phenotypes that included ≥ 50 cases and pesticide exposures with ≥ 5 exposed cases and controls, which resulted in 235 comparisons. 38% of cases and controls were classified as exposed to pesticides within a 500 m radius of mother's address during a 3-month periconceptional window. Adjusted odds ratios (AORs) with 95% CIs excluding 1.0 were observed for 18 comparisons; all were >1 and ranged from 1.9 to 7.1. They included tetralogy of Fallot and neonicotinoids; hypoplastic left heart syndrome and strobins; coarctation of the aorta and pyridazinones; pulmonary valve stenosis and bipyridyliums and organophosphates; ventricular septal defects and avermectins and pyrethroids; and atrial septal defects and dichlorphenoxy acid or esters, organophosphates, organotins, and pyrethroids. No AORs met both of these criteria for d-transposition of the great arteries or heterotaxia.Most pesticides were not associated with increased risk of specific heart defect phenotypes. For the few that were associated, results should be interpreted with caution until replicated in other study populations.
    [a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25262086">Residential agricultural pesticide exposures and risk of selected congenital heart defects among offspring in the San Joaquin Valley of California.
    Study examined the potential association of congenital heart defects with residential proximity to commercial agricultural pesticide applications in the San Joaquin Valley, California. Study subjects included 569 heart defect cases and 785 non-malformed controls born from 1997 to 2006 whose mothers participated in a population-based case-control study. Associations with any versus no exposure to physicochemical groups of pesticides and specific chemicals were assessed using logistic regression adjusted for relevant covariates, for 8 heart defect phenotypes that included ≥ 50 cases and pesticide exposures with ≥ 5 exposed cases and controls, which resulted in 235 comparisons. 38% of cases and controls were classified as exposed to pesticides within a 500 m radius of mother's address during a 3-month periconceptional window. Adjusted odds ratios (AORs) with 95% CIs excluding 1.0 were observed for 18 comparisons; all were >1 and ranged from 1.9 to 7.1. They included tetralogy of Fallot and neonicotinoids; hypoplastic left heart syndrome and strobins; coarctation of the aorta and pyridazinones; pulmonary valve stenosis and bipyridyliums and organophosphates; ventricular septal defects and avermectins and pyrethroids; and atrial septal defects and dichlorphenoxy acid or esters, organophosphates, organotins, and pyrethroids. No AORs met both of these criteria for d-transposition of the great arteries or heterotaxia.Most pesticides were not associated with increased risk of specific heart defect phenotypes. For the few that were associated, results should be interpreted with caution until replicated in other study populations.
    Carmichael SL, Yang W, Roberts E, et al. 2014. Environ Res. 135:133-8.]
  • Is Hypospadias Associated with Prenatal Exposure to Endocrine Disruptors? A French Collaborative Controlled Study of a Cohort of 300 Consecutive Children Without Genetic Defect.
    This study's aim was to identify the role of occupational and environmental exposures to EDCs in nongenetic isolated hypospadias. A total of 408 consecutive children with isolated hypospadias and 302 normal boys were prospectively included (2009-2014) in a multi-institutional study in the south of France, the area of the country with the highest prevalence of hypospadias surgery. In patients without AR, SRD5A2, and MAMLD1 mutations, parental occupational and professional exposures to EDCs were evaluated based on European questionnaire QLK4-1999-01422 and a validated job-exposure matrix for EDCs.Fetal exposure to EDCs around the window of genital differentiation was more frequent in the case of hypospadias. The substances were paints/solvents/adhesives (16.0%), detergents (11.0%), pesticides (9.0%), cosmetics (5.6%), and industrial chemicals (4.0%). Jobs with exposure were more frequent in mothers of hypospadiac boys, especially cleaners, hairdressers, beauticians, and laboratory workers. Paternal job exposure was more frequent in the cases of hypospadias. Industrial areas, incinerators, and waste areas were more frequent within a 3-km radius for mothers of hypospadiac boys . Association of occupational and environmental exposures increases this risk.This multicenter prospective controlled study with a homogeneous cohort of hypospadiac boys without genetic defects strongly suggests that EDCs are a risk factor for hypospadias through occupational and environmental exposure during fetal life. The association of various types of exposures may increase this risk.
    [Kalfa N, Paris F, Philibert P, Orsini M, et al.2015. Eur Urol.pii: S0302-2838(15)00409-1]
  • Maternal occupational pesticide exposure and risk of congenital heart defects in the national birth defects prevention study.
    Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are common birth defects, affecting approximately 1% of live births. Pesticide exposure has been suggested as an etiologic factor for CHDs, but previous results were inconsistent.Study examined maternal occupational exposure to fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides for 3328 infants with CHDs and 2988 unaffected control infants of employed mothers using data for 1997 through 2002 births from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, a population-based multisite case-control study. Maternal occupational exposure to pesticides was not associated with CHDs overall. In examining specific CHD subtypes compared with controls, some novel associations were observed with higher estimated pesticide exposure: insecticides only and secundum atrial septal defect; both insecticides and herbicides and hypoplastic left heart syndrome, as well as pulmonary valve stenosis; and insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides and tetralogy of Fallot (TOF). Broad pesticide exposure categories were not associated with CHDs overall, but examining specific CHD subtypes revealed some increased odds ratios. These results highlight the importance of examining specific CHDs separately. Because of multiple comparisons, additional work is needed to verify these associations.
    [Rocheleau CM, Bertke SJ, Lawson CC, et al. 2015. Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol.103(10):823-33.]
  • Early pregnancy agricultural pesticide exposures and risk of gastroschisis among offspring in the San Joaquin Valley of California.
    Prevalence of gastroschisis has inexplicably been increasing over the past few decades.The intent of this study was to explore whether early gestational exposures to pesticides were associated with risk of gastroschisis. Authors used population-based data, accompanied by detailed information from maternal interviews as well as information on residential proximity to a large number of commercial pesticide applications during early pregnancy. The study population derived from the San Joaquin Valley of California (). Cases were 156 infants/fetuses with gastroschisis and controls were 785 infants without birth defects. Among 22 chemical pesticide groups analyzed, none had an elevated odds ratio with an associated confidence interval that excluded 1.0, although exposure to the triazine group showed borderline significance. Among 36 specific pesticide chemicals analyzed, only exposure to petroleum distillates was associated with an elevated risk, odds ratio = 2.5 (1.1-5.6). In general, a substantially different inference was not derived when analyses were stratified by maternal age or when risk estimation included adjustment for race/ethnicity, body mass index, folic acid supplement use, and smoking.
    [Shaw GM, Yang W, Roberts E, et al. 2014. Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol.100(9):686-94]
  • Hypospadias in offspring is associated with chronic exposure of parents to organophosphate and organochlorine pesticides.
    Authors have currently evaluated the possible association between hypospadias and exposure to organophosphorus (OP) and organochlorine (OC) pesticides. here, they measured the dialkyl phosphate metabolites of organophosphate pesticides (DAPs) in the hair and blood, as well as OC pesticides (DDTs, HCHs) in the hair collected from children with hypospadias and their parents. The concentration of HCHs in the hair samples obtained from mothers was higher than that previously reported for people working in open cultivations, while the concentration of DDTs in the hair samples obtained from mothers, fathers and their children with hypospadias was much higher than that previously reported for occupationally exposed individuals. The DMP concentration in hair samples obtained from mothers was much higher not only from that reported for the general population, but even higher than that reported for occupationally exposed individuals. Furthermore, SUMDEPs and SUMDAPs in the hair samples obtained both from the hypospadiac boys, as well as from their parents were higher than the corresponding values previously reported for the general population. Our study supports the hypothesis that organophosphate and organochlorine pesticide exposure may be a potential risk factor for hypospadias.
    [Michalakis M, Tzatzarakis MN, et al. 2014. Toxicol Lett. 230(2):139-45.]
  • Maternal periconceptional occupational exposure to pesticides and selected musculoskeletal birth defects.
    This population-based U.S. study investigated the association between major musculoskeletal malformations and periconceptional maternal occupational pesticide exposure for a wide range of occupations. We conducted a multi-site case-control analysis using data from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study among employed women with due dates from October 1, 1997 through December 31, 2002. Cases included 871 live-born, stillborn, or electively terminated fetuses with isolated craniosynostosis, gastroschisis, diaphragmatic hernia, or transverse limb deficiencies. Controls included 2857 live-born infants without major malformations. Using self-reported maternal occupational information, an industrial hygienist used a job-exposure matrix and expert opinion to evaluate the potential for exposure to insecticides, herbicides or fungicides for each job held during one month pre-conception through three months post-conception. Exposures analyzed included any exposure (yes/no) to pesticides, to insecticides only, to both insecticides and herbicides (I+H) and to insecticides, herbicides and fungicides (I+H+F). Occupational exposure to I+H+F was associated with gastroschisis among infants of women aged 20 years or older, but not for women under age 20. No significant associations for the other defects were found. Additional research is needed to validate these findings in a separate population.
    [Kielb C, Lin S, Herdt-Losavio M, Bell E, et al. 2014. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 217(2-3):248-54.]
  • Maternal periconceptional occupational pesticide exposure and neural tube defects.
    Adverse associations between maternal pesticide exposure and neural tube defects (NTDs) have been suggested but not consistently observed. This study used data from the multisite National Birth Defects Prevention Study to examine associations between maternal periconceptional (1 month preconception through 2 months postconception) occupational pesticide exposure and NTDs. Mothers of 502 NTD cases and 2950 unaffected live-born control infants with estimated delivery dates from 1997 through 2002 were included. Duration, categorical intensity scores, and categorical frequency scores for pesticide classes (e.g., insecticides) were assigned using a modified, literature-based job-exposure matrix and maternal-reported occupational histories. Positive, but marginally significant or nonsignificant, aORs were observed for exposure to insecticides + herbicides for all NTD cases combined and for spina bifida alone. Similarly, positive aORs were observed for any exposure and cumulative exposure to insecticides + herbicides + fungicides and anencephaly alone and encephalocele alone. All other aORs were near unity. Pesticide exposure associations varied by NTD subtype and pesticide class. Several aORs were increased, but not significantly. Future work should continue to examine associations between pesticide classes and NTD subtypes using a detailed occupational pesticide exposure assessment and examine pesticide exposures outside the workplace.
    [Makelarski JA, Romitti PA, Rocheleau CM, et al.2014. Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol.100(11):877-86.]
  • Risk of cryptorchidism among sons of horticultural workers and farmers in Denmark
    Previous studies indicate an increased risk of cryptorchidism, incomplete testicular descent, among sons of women working with pesticides. This study assessed the risk of cryptorchidism among boys of parents employed as horticultural workers and farmers using nationwide registers on occupation and cryptorchidism.The cohort consisted of >600 000 boys born in Denmark from 1980-2007 with a parent in employment during pregnancy. These boys were followed for cryptorchidism from 1980-2009 comparing risks among sons of horticultural workers and farmers with sons of parents in other occupations. Sons of maternal farmers were at increased risk of cryptorchidism compared to boys of mothers in other occupations. Paternal occupation as farmer was unrelated to the risk among sons. Maternal occupation as a horticultural worker was associated with a non-significantly increased risk. A similar association was found for paternal horticultural workers. Sons of maternal farmers or horticultural workers who likely worked in the first trimester were not at increased risk of cryptorchidism. This nationwide cohort study found a slightly increased risk of cryptorchidism in sons of maternal horticultural workers and farmers. However, subgroup analyses indicated similar findings for paternal horticultural workers, and no association for women likely working in the first trimester. The main findings should therefore be interpreted with caution.
    [Jørgensen KT, Jensen MS, Toft GV,et al. 2014. Scand J Work Environ Health. 40(3):323-30]
  • Hypospadias and residential proximity to pesticide applications.
    Examine the association of hypospadias with residential proximity to commercial agricultural pesticide applications.The study population included male infants born from 1991 to 2004 to mothers residing in 8 California counties. Cases (n = 690) were ascertained by the California Birth Defects Monitoring Program; controls were selected randomly from the birth population (n = 2195). Authors determined early pregnancy exposure to pesticide applications within a 500-m radius of mother's residential address, using detailed data on applications and land use. Forty-one percent of cases and controls were classified as exposed to 57 chemical groups and 292 chemicals. Despite >500 statistical comparisons, there were few elevated odds ratios with confidence intervals that excluded 1 for chemical groups or specific chemicals. Those that did were for monochlorophenoxy acid or ester herbicides; the insecticides aldicarb, dimethoate, phorate, and petroleum oils; and adjuvant polyoxyethylene sorbitol among all cases; 2,6-dinitroaniline herbicides, the herbicide oxyfluorfen, and the fungicide copper sulfate among mild cases; and chloroacetanilide herbicides, polyalkyloxy compounds used as adjuvants, the insecticides aldicarb and acephate, and the adjuvant nonyl-phenoxy-poly(ethylene oxy)ethanol among moderate and severe cases. Odds ratios ranged from 1.9 to 2.9.Most pesticides were not associated with elevated hypospadias risk. For the few that were associated, results should be interpreted with caution until replicated in other study populations.
    [Carmichael SL, Yang W, Roberts EM, et al. 2013. Pediatrics. 132(5):e1216-26]
  • Association of selected persistent organic pollutants in the placenta with the risk of neural tube defects
    Placental concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), organochlorine pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers were analyzed in 80 fetuses or newborns with neural tube defects (NTDs). A dose–response relationship was observed between PAH levels and the risk of NTDs.
    [Ren, A. et al. 2011. PNAS. 108 (31) 12770-12775]
  • Urinary Biomarkers of Prenatal Atrazine Exposure and Adverse Birth Outcomes in the PELAGIE Birth Cohort
    This study, a case-cohort design nested in a prospective birth cohort conducted in the Brittany region from 2002 through 2006, collected maternal urine samples to examine pesticide exposure biomarkers before the 19th week of gestation. Quantifiable levels of atrazine were found in urine samples from 5.5% of 579 pregnant women, and various metabolites were identified in 20-40% of samples. The presence versus absence of quantifiable levels of atrazine or a specific atrazine metabolite was associated with fetal growth restriction and small head circumference. Head circumference was also inversely associated with the presence of the herbicide metolachlor. Daily News
    [Chevrier C, Limon G, Monfort C, Rouget F, Garlantézec R, Petit C, et al. 2011. Environ Health Perspect. doi:10.1289/ehp.1002775]
  • Agricultural-related chemical exposures, season of conception, and risk of gastroschisis in Washington State
    Reserchers conducted a retrospective, case-controlled study using Washington State Birth Certificate and US Geological Survey databases. Cases included all live-born singleton infants with gastroschisis. Distance between a woman's residence and site of elevated exposure to agrichemicals was calculated. Gastroschisis occurred more frequently among those who resided <25 km from a site of high atrazine concentration (odds ratio, 1.6). Risk was related inversely to the distance between the maternal residence and the closest toxic atrazine site.
    [Waller, S.A., Paul, K., Peterson, S.E. andHitti, J.E. . 2010. Am J Obst Gyn. 202(3): 241.e1–241.e6.]
  • Correlation Between Pesticide Use in Agriculture and Adverse Birth Outcomes in Brazil: An Ecological Study
    This ecological study analyzed the association between pesticide use and prematurity, low weight and congenital abnormality at birth, infant death by congenital abnormality, and fetal death in Brazil in 2001. The association between pesticide use and low birth weight and, congenital abnormality and infant death rate by congenital abnormality remained after the adjustment made by the proportion of pregnant women with a low number of prenatal care visits.
    [de Siqueira, MT et al. 2010. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol. 84(6):647-51]
  • Impact on fetal growth of prenatal exposure to pesticides due to agricultural activities: a prospective cohort study in Brittany, France
    Pregnant women living in a municipality where peas or potatoes were grown had an increased risk of giving birth to an infant with a small head circumference. Head circumference also tended to be lower where wheat was grown, but not to statistically significant degree. The study found no association between head circumference and proximity to other crops. The study’s authors suggest that pesticides, specifically organophosphates, are a possible cause. OPs were applied to most of the area devoted to pea and potato crops, but used less frequently in areas growing corn and wheat.
    [Petit, C., et al. 2010. Environmental Health, 9(71).]
  • Maternal Pesticide Exposure and Neural Tube Defects in Mexican Americans
    The relation between maternal pesticide exposures and neural tube defects (NTDs) in offspring was evaluated in 184 Mexican American case-women and 225 comparison women. women who reported using pesticides in their homes or yards were two times more likely to have NTD-affected pregnancies than women without these reported exposures. Case-women were also more likely to report living within 0.25 mile of cultivated fields than control-women. As sources of pesticide exposure opportunities increased, risk of NTDs also increased.
    [Brender, JD., et al. 2010. Ann Epidemiol. 20(1):16-22]
  • Parental occupational exposure to potential endocrine disrupting chemicals and risk of hypospadias in infants
    The aim of this study was to investigate the association between both maternal and paternal occupational exposures to endocrine disrupting chemcials (EDCs) and hypospadias. Analysis showed a strong association with potential maternal occupational exposure to heavy metals with an over twofold increased risk of hypospadias and women exposed to phthalates were more likely to have an affected son. The risks of moderate–severe hypospadias or multiple defects were increased up to two- and fivefold, respectively, with maternal exposure to most types of EDCs. Paternal occupational exposures to polychlorinated organic and bi-phenolic compounds were also possible risk factors.
    [Nassar, N. et al. 2010. Occup Environ Med. 67:585-589]
  • PESTICIDES: Examining DDT’s Urogenital Effects
    Review of reserach documenting a variety of urogenital malformations in male babies born to women living in an area of South Africa where the potentially endocrine-disrupting pesticide DDT is still used.
    [Lubick, N. 2010. Environ Health Perspect. 118(1): A18]
  • Agrichemicals in surface water and birth defects in the United States
    Researchers compiled data for monthly concentrations of pesticides/nitrates and birth defect rates between 1996 and 2002, and found that the months (April-July) with the highest rates of pesticides conincided with the months with the highest rates of birth defects.
    [Winchester, P., et al. 2009. Acta Paediatrica, 98(4).]
  • Glyphosate Formulations Induce Apoptosis and Necrosis in Human Umbilical, Embryonic, and Placental Cells
    One study found that the so-called "inert" ingredient in Roundup amplified the effects of the active, toxic ingredient, glyphosate by causing cell membranes to become more permeable and accelerating the rate of apoptosis and necrosis.
    [Benachour, N., et al. 2009. Chemical Research in Toxicology, 22(1)]
  • Pesticides and hypospadias: A meta-analysis
    Study used meta-analytic techniques to synthesize the findings of the current body of published literature regarding the risk of hypospadias resulting from parental exposure to pesticides. Elevated but marginally significant risks of hypospadias were associated with maternal occupational exposure and paternal occupational exposure. Exposure assessment using a job-exposure matrix resulted in slightly higher estimated risk than agricultural occupation in fathers; but this effect was reversed in mothers, suggesting the importance of indirect and residential pesticide exposures in this group.
    [Rocheleau CM, Romitti PA, Dennis LK. 2009. J Pediatr Urol. 5(1):17-24]
  • Risk of limb birth defects and mother's home proximity to cornfields
    Authors studied birth defects in relation to the area of corn or soybeans within 500 m of the mother's residence. Results found that limb birth defects increased in relation to cornfields. None of the birth defect types studied was associated with soybeans.
    [Ochoa-Acuña, H. and Carbajo. C. 2009. Sci Total Environ. 407(15):4447-51]
  • Use of biocides and insect repellents and risk of hypospadias
    Study found an association between the use of insect repellent and total biocide score and risk of hypospadias. The use of insect repellent during the first trimester of pregnancy was associated with an 81% increased risk of hypospadias.
    [Dugas J., et al. 2009. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, doi:10.1136/oem.2009.047373]
  • Cryptorchidism at birth in Nice area (France) is associated with higher prenatal exposure to PCBs and DDE, as assessed by colostrum concentrations
    A 2008 study finds a link between total chemical contamination in the bodies of pregnant women and the risk of cryptorchidism in their male babies. Mothers whose babies were born with the defect had the highest concentrations of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), mostly organochlorines like PCB and DDE, in their breast milk. The study compares prebirth exposure to chemicals, as measured through their mother’s milk, and the risk of undescended testicles or cryptorchidism, during a three-year period. While all subjects in the study had detectable levels of these chemicals in either their blood or breast milk, the researchers found that mothers in the highest exposure group for PCBs and DDE in breast milk had two-fold greater odds of giving birth to a boy baby with cryptorchidism, as compared to moms with low to medium exposure. The occurrence of cryptorchidism indicates that testosterone production and/or hormone signaling conditions in the womb have gone awry. Both of these conditions are related to sperm production and the risk of testicular cancer later in life. Cryptorchidism is seen in about 3% of male full-term births, 30% of premature births and is one cause of male infertility.
    [Brucker-Davis F., et al. 2008. Human Reproduction, 23(8).]
  • Mammary Gland Development as a Sensitive End Point after Acute Prenatal Exposure to an Atrazine Metabolite Mixture in Female Long-Evans Rats
    Exposure of rats late in pregnancy to amixture of metabolites of atrazine also leads to persistent changes in mammary gland development in the pups that were exposed during gestation. These abnormalities in prenatally exposed rats persist into adulthood.
    [Enoch R.R., et al. 2006. Environmental Health Perspectives, 115(4).]
  • Differential Effects of Glyphosate and Roundup on Human Placental Cells and Aromatase
    A 2005 study finds damaging endocrine effects of glyphosate (Roundup) to fetal growth at levels 10 times lower than used in agriculture. The product formulation Roundup was shown to be at least twice as toxic as the active ingredient alone. According to the researchers, the study demonstrates that Roundup acts as a disruptor of aromatase activity (, a mammalian enzyme crucial for sex steroid hormone synthesis and physiologic functions, including female and male reproduction, sex differentiation, and bone growth.) from concentrations 100 times lower than the recommended use in agriculture. The effect they report is noticeable on human placental cells after only 18 hours.
    [Richard S., et al. 2005. Environmental Health Perspectives, 113(6).]
  • Low-Dose Agrochemicals and Lawn-Care Pesticides Induce Developmental Toxicity in Murine Preimplantation Embryos
    Lawn pesticide products containing herbicides and fertilizers (such as “weed and feed” products) tested on mice show increased risk of infertility, miscarriage and birth defects at very low dosages.
    [Greenlee, A., et al. 2004. Environmental Health Perspectives, 112(6): 703-709.]
  • Pesticides and children
    This study examines how children are at risk for other effects of organophosphates and synthetic pyrethroids, including physical and mental retardation, alterations of the cardiovascular system and musculoskeletal defects, alterations of the menstrual cycle, obesity, and failure to develop secondary sex characteristics.
    [Garry, V.F., 2004. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 198(2): p. 152-163.]
  • Prenatal Insecticide Exposures and Birth Weight and Length Among an Urban Minority Cohort
    Insecticide exposures are widespread among minority women in New York City during pregnancy and that levels of the organophosphate chlorpyrifos in umbilical cord plasma were inversely associated with birth weight and length. Here authors analyse insecticides (the organophosphate diazinon and the carbamate propoxur), a sample size (n = 314 mother-newborn pairs), and insecticide measurements in maternal personal air during pregnancy as well as in umbilical cord plasma at delivery. Authors found no association between maternal personal air insecticide levels and birth weight, length, or head circumference. For each log unit increase in cord plasma chlorpyrifos levels, birth weight decreased by 42.6 g and birth length decreased by 0.24 cm. Combined measures of (ln)cord plasma chlorpyrifos and diazinon were also inversely associated with birth weight and length. Birth weight averaged 186.3 g less among newborns with the highest compared with lowest 26% of exposure levels. Further, the associations between birth weight and length and cord plasma chlorpyrifos and diazinon were highly significant among newborns born before the 2000-2001 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory actions to phase out residential use of these insecticides. Among newborns born after January 2001, exposure levels were substantially lower, and no association with fetal growth was apparent. The propoxur metabolite 2-isopropoxyphenol in cord plasma was inversely associated with birth length, a finding of borderline significance after controlling for chlorpyrifos and diazinon. Results indicate that prenatal chlorpyrifos exposures have impaired fetal growth among this minority cohort and that diazinon exposures may have contributed to the effects. Findings support recent regulatory action to phase out residential uses of the insecticides.
    [Whyatt RM, Rauh V, Barr DB, Camann DE, Andrews HF, et al. 2004. Environ Health Perspect.112(10):1125-32.]
  • Birth Malformations and Other Adverse Perinatal Outcomes in Four U.S. Wheat-Producing States.
    A 2003 EPA study suggests an association between rates of birth malformations and indirect measures of human exposure to chlorophenoxy herbicides, such as 2,4-D and MCPA, common weed killers sold commercially and used in agriculture. Combined circulatory and respiratory malformations increased by more than two-fold, and musculoskeletal malformations increased by 50%; Death rates from birth malformations among male infants were more than double; and, compared with births conceived during other months of the year, an increased chance of circulatory and respiratory (excluding heart) malformations for infants conceived from April to June, a time that more than 85% of the acreage treated with chlorophenoxy herbicides is applied on durum wheat in the states studied.
    [Schreinemachers, D. 2003. Environmental Health Perspectives, 111(9).]
  • Effects of Transplacental Exposure to Environmental Pollutants on Birth Outcomes in a Multiethnic Population.
    A 2003 study finds that prenatal exposure to the pesticide chlorpyrifos adversely affects fetal development. The researchers examined 250 non-smoking African American and Dominican women in the New York City area for prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos by measuring levels of the pesticide in the umbilical cord of the newborn. The results associated chlorpyrifos presence with decreased birth weight and birth length.
    [Perera, F. et al. Feb. 2003. Environmental Health Perspectives, 111(2).]
  • Developmental neurotoxicity of chlorpyrifos modeled in vitro: Comparative effects of metabolites and other cholinesterase inhibitors on DNA synthesis in PC12 and C6 cells.
    A 2001 published study finds that organophosphate pesticides and their major metabolites can affect a fetus or newborn at concentrations that are nontoxic to adults. The study compared the effects of these pesticides in two in vitro models, using neuronotypic and gliotypic cells.
    [Qiao, D. et al. 2001. Environmental Health Perspectives, 109(9):909-913.]
  • Chlorpyrifos (Dursban)-associated birth defects: report of four cases.
    A 1996 study of children exposed to chlorpyrifos in utero found that extensive and unusual patterns of birth defects, including brain, nervous system, eyes, ears, palate, teeth, heart, feet, nipples, and genitalia. Published literature and EPA documents contain reports that identify similarities in defects found in test animals and children exposed to chlorpyrifos.
    [Sherman, J.D. 1996. Environmental Health Perspectives, 51(1).]
  • Pesticide appliers, biocides, and birth defects in rural Minnesota.
    A study of live births in Minnesota farming communities links the use of 2,4-D and other penoxy-acetic acid-derived herbicides to significantly higher rates of central nervous system, urogenital, circulatory/respiratory, or musculoskeletal anomalies in the children of pesticide applicators versus the average population.
    [Garry, V., et al. 1996. Environmental Health Perspectives 104(4):394-399.]