Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Living Near Where Pesticides Used May Boost Fetal Death Due To Birth Defects

Date:
February 15, 2001
Source:
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill
Summary:
Living close to areas where agricultural pesticides are applied may boost the risk of fetal death due to birth defects, a new University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study indicates. Researchers say their findings suggest but do not prove a hazard.

CHAPEL HILL -- Living close to areas where agricultural pesticides are applied may boost the risk of fetal death due to birth defects, a new University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study indicates. Researchers say their findings suggest but do not prove a hazard. The study, which involved almost 700 women in 10 California counties, showed an increased risk of death among developing babies, ranging from 40 percent to 120 percent among those whose mothers lived near crops where certain pesticides were sprayed. Scientists compared the cases of 73 women whose pregnancies ended because of birth defects with 611 control subjects whose pregnancies ended in normal live births.

"Our study showed a consistent pattern with respect to timing of exposure," said Dr. Erin M. Bell, who earned her doctorate with the research at the UNC School of Public Health. "The largest risks for fetal death due to birth defects were from pesticide exposure during the third week to the eighth week of pregnancy."

That span -- much of the first trimester -- appears to be a special window of vulnerability for birth defects, Bell said, just as earlier research has suggested.

"The risks appeared to be strongest among pregnant women who lived in the same square mile where pesticides were used," she said.

A report on the research will appear in the March issue of Epidemiology, a public health journal. Besides Bell, now an epidemiologist with the National Cancer Institute, authors were her mentor Dr. Irva Hertz-Picciotto, professor of epidemiology at UNC, and Dr. James J. Beaumont, formerly of the University of California at Davis and now with the California Environmental Protection Agency.

"This is the first study to our knowledge of pesticides and pregnancy in which exposures were in close proximity to the subjects and the verification of pesticide use was objective, not relying on people's memories of what they might have been exposed to," Hertz-Picciotto said.

Researchers tapped information about dates, locations and amounts of chemicals applied by air or ground equipment resulting from the California law requiring that all restricted pesticide use be reported. They compared that with detailed information about where pregnant women lived and what happened with their pregnancies.

"The take-home message is that we did find an increased risk for women living near agricultural fields where pesticides were applied during the early weeks of their pregnancies, but these results are not conclusive," Bell said.

Investigators cautioned that further study is needed since they lacked certain information.

"Our exposure classification method did not guarantee that a mother was in fact exposed because wind and weather conditions, hour of application and the location of the mother at the times of application were all factors that would determine actual exposure," she said.

Women considering becoming pregnant who are worried about pesticide exposure should consult their physicians, she said. Five pesticide classes were examined in the new study. Those were phosphates, pyrethroids, halogenated hydrocarbons, carbamates and endocrine disruptors.

About 19,000 fetal deaths occur in the United States each year, and the causes remain a significant public health problem, Bell said. Among known risk factors are smoking, advanced age among pregnant women and previous history of fetal deaths.

In the past, few epidemiological studies of pesticide exposure and birth defects have considered timing of possible exposures. California counties included in the new UNC study were Madera, Tulare, Kings, Merced, Monterey, Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Riverside, Fresno and Kern.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. "Living Near Where Pesticides Used May Boost Fetal Death Due To Birth Defects." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 February 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/02/010214075018.htm>.
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. (2001, February 15). Living Near Where Pesticides Used May Boost Fetal Death Due To Birth Defects. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/02/010214075018.htm
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. "Living Near Where Pesticides Used May Boost Fetal Death Due To Birth Defects." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/02/010214075018.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
EU Ministers and Experts Meet to Discuss Ebola Reponse

EU Ministers and Experts Meet to Discuss Ebola Reponse

AFP (Sep. 15, 2014) The European Commission met on Monday to coordinate aid that the EU can offer to African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak. Duration: 00:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite The Risks, Antibiotics Still Overprescribed For Kids

Despite The Risks, Antibiotics Still Overprescribed For Kids

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) A new study finds children are prescribed antibiotics twice as often as is necessary. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins