skip to Main Content

Archived HHRA News Posts
  • Heartland Study Enrolls 1,000th Mother-Infant Pair

    July 19, 2024 – In June of this year, the Heartland Study achieved a major milestone, enrolling its 1,000th mother-infant pair. Enrollment is now at 50% of goal. The objective of the Study is to help fill major gaps in our understanding of the impacts of herbicides on maternal and infant health. Currently in Phase 1, the Study is focused on evaluating associations between herbicide concentrations in body fluids and tissue samples from pregnant women and infants, and pregnancy/childbirth outcomes. Phase 2 is designed to evaluate potential associations between herbicide biomarkers and early childhood neurological development. Much appreciation for the mothers enrolled, and the entire Heartland Study Team including scientists, support staff and clinicians for this tremendous achievement, and for our funders to making this work possible. Read more about the study including peer-reviewed studies published in Chemosphere and Agrichemicals at our publications  page. The investment required to conduct this study exceeds $1 million each year. You can support this important work by making a donation here.

  • HHRA’s 2023 Annual Report

    Last year was a year of progress for the HHRA and the Heartland Study. Read about it here!  

  • Supporting HHRA and the Heartland Study Through Donor-Advised Funds

    An increasingly popular way to manage charitable giving is by donating cash, securities, or other assets into a donor-advised fund (DAF), from which you will receive an immediate tax deduction. From this, donors can recommend grants to IRS-qualified nonprofit organizations.  DAFs are one of the easiest and most tax-advantageous ways to “grow” resources earmarked for future charitable giving.  The HHRA is an IRS-qualified organization, and we encourage you to use your DAF, if you have one, to support our mission. You can find three simple steps to supporting our research via your DAF here.  Simple and convenient, your DAF can have genuine effects on the health of mothers, babies, and future generations.  Thank you!

  • HHRA-funded Dicamba study published in “agrochemicals”

    Dicamba and 2,4-D in the Urine of Pregnant Women in the Midwest: Comparison of Two Cohorts (2010–2012 vs. 2020–2022) Abstract Currently, there are no known human biomonitoring studies that concurrently examine biomarkers of dicamba and 2,4-D. We sought to compare biomarkers of exposure to herbicides in pregnant women residing in the US Midwest before and after the adoption of dicamba-tolerant soybean technology using urine specimens obtained in 2010–2012 from the Nulliparous Pregnancy Outcomes Study: Monitoring Mothers-to-be (N = 61) and in 2020–2022 from the Heartland Study (N = 91). Specific gravity-standardized concentration levels for each analyte were compared between the cohorts, assuming data are lognormal and specifying values below the LOD as left-censored. The proportion of pregnant individuals with dicamba detected above the LOD significantly increased from 28% (95% CI: 16%, 40%) in 2010–2012 to 70% (95% CI: 60%, 79%) in 2020–2022, and dicamba concentrations also significantly increased from 0.066 μg/L (95% CI: 0.042, 0.104) to 0.271 μg/L (95% CI: 0.205, 0.358). All pregnant individuals from both cohorts had 2,4-D detected. Though 2,4-D concentration levels increased, the difference was not significant (p-value = 0.226). Reliance on herbicides has drastically increased in the last ten years in the United States, and the results obtained in this study highlight the need to track exposure and impacts on adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes. Keywords: pesticide; exposure; 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid; human biomonitoring You can read the paper here.

  • Crop-killing Weeds Advance Across US as Herbicides Lose Effectiveness

    Farmers say they are losing their battle with weeds at a time when growers are grappling with inflation and extreme weather linked to climate change. Crop-killing weeds such as kochia are advancing across the U.S. northern plains and Midwest, in the latest sign that weeds are developing resistance to chemicals faster than companies including Bayer and Corteva  can develop new ones to fight them. In many cases weeds are developing resistance against multiple herbicides, scientists said. Read the Reuters report here.  Read an earlier post by the HHRA board chair on the problem of resistant weeds here.

HHRA Partners with CTQ Lab in Quebec

Mar 12th, 2021
Mar 12th, 2021

HHRA is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Centre de toxicologie du Québec analytical laboratory, or CTQ. This world-renowned lab will process biological samples collected through HHRA’s medical research on the public health implications of pesticide exposure. For example, urine samples from moms and babies enrolled in our flagship project The Heartland Study will soon be heading north to be tested for glyphosate, the most-commonly used herbicide in the US.

While our scientists had hoped to work with the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) main pesticide analytical lab in Atlanta for all HHRA and Heartland Study urine testing, COVID forced a change in plans. This CDC lab was shut down for many months and is only now returning to service. It faces a huge backlog in essential testing and cannot work any HHRA samples into its workflow for many months.

So our team explored other options and were fortunate to learn of the new herbicide-testing capabilities of  CTQ, a new partner in the Heartland Health Research Alliance. The CTQ lab in Quebec serves many of the same functions in Canada as our CDC in the US. It has the world’s only vetted method that detects both glyphosate and its major metabolite AMPA, as well as another common herbicide, glufosinate, and its major metabolite.

CTQ is also going to work with us to develop a new method to measure 2,4-D and dicamba in Heartland Study urine samples. Exposures to these two high-risk herbicides are rising across the Heartland. Both have been linked to cancer and reproductive and developmental problems.

Our first shipment has just arrived at CTQ — about 580 samples of frozen urine from the nuMom2b Nested Case Control Cohort Study (nuNCCS). This research is “nested” within a larger, already completed study on first time moms and their babies.

We will measure herbicide levels in stored urine samples from the nuMoM2b study, allowing us to assess whether moms enrolled in this study with higher herbicide levels in their urine were at higher risk for adverse birth outcomes.

We are also collecting urine from moms and babies enrolled in The Heartland Study, and will be sending these samples to CTQ for analysis. We are excited for this new partnership as we work to improve analytical methods available for measuring human exposure to pesticides and lower the cost per sample tested. Progress is being made on both fronts thanks to the great team of analytical chemists at CTQ.

Back To Top