A new study reinforces news we’ve heard before. First of all pesticides cause problems for pregnant women and their babies. Secondly, pregnant women are carrying pesticides in abundance in their bodies. Lead researcher Bruce Lanphear MD, MPH, and his colleagues tracked a group of more than 300 expectant mothers from the Cincinnati area. The group of women was intentionally designed to be ethnically and economically diverse. The plan was to compare prenatal insecticide exposure to gestational age and birth weight. The researchers got some interesting results. Overall, babies born to women with the highest levels of organophosphates (pesticides, such as those found in weed killer and food) in their urine samples, were born about half a week earlier and weighed one-third of a pound less than those of women with the lowest pesticide exposures. Oddly, the effects varied by race, ethnicity and paroxanase (PON1) genotypes – paraoxonases are enzymes involved in the hydrolysis of organophosphates.
Among the 306 mothers and infants tested, a 10-fold increase in concentrations of dialkylphosphates (DAP), the urinary markers of the exposure to organophosphates pesticides, was associated with a decrease in gestational age and birthweight. The relationship between DAP concentrations and gestational age was stronger for white newborns than black newborns. There was also a greater decrease in birthweight with increasing urinary DAP concentrations for black than white newborns. This may sound like a lot of science mumbo jumbo, but in reality, what’s most important to know is that pesticides continue to mean trouble for both pregnant women and babies. Pesticides during pregnancy have been linked to male hormone disruption, diminished IQ, poor central nervous system development, learning disabilities, possibly stunted growth, early puberty in girls and many other problems.
Lead Image by Flickr User rahego