René Glynnis English, Melissa Perry, Mary M. Lee, Elaine Hoffman, Steven Delport, Mohamed Aqiel Dalvie, “Farm residence and reproductive health among boys in rural South Africa,” Environment International, 2012, 47, DOI: 10.1016/J.Envint.2012.06.006.
Few studies have investigated reproductive health effects of contemporary agricultural pesticides in boys. To determine the association between pesticide exposure and reproductive health of boys. We conducted a cross-sectional study in rural South Africa of boys living on and off farms. The study included a questionnaire (demographics, general and reproductive health, phyto-estrogen intake, residential history, pesticide exposures, exposures during pregnancy); and a physical examination that included sexual maturity development ratings; testicular volume; height, weight, body mass index; and sex hormone concentrations. Among the 269 boys recruited into the study, 177 (65.8%) were categorized as farm (high pesticide exposures) and 98 (34.2%) as non-farm residents (lower pesticide exposures). Median ages of the two groups were 11.3 vs 12.0 years, respectively (p<0.05). After controlling for confounders that included socioeconomic status, farm boys were shorter (regression coefficient (RC)=-3.42 cm; 95% confidence interval (CI): -6.38 to -0.45 cm) and weighed less (RC=-2.26 kg; CI: -4.44 to -0.75 kg). The farm boys also had lower serum lutenizing hormone (RC=-0.28 IU/L; CI: -0.48 to -0.08 IU/L), but higher serum oestradiol (RC=8.07 pmol/L; CI: 2.34-13.81 pmol/L) and follicle stimulating hormone (RC=0.63 IU/L; CI: 0.19-1.08 U/L). Our study provides evidence that farm residence is associated with adverse growth and reproductive health of pubertal boys which may be due to environmental exposures to hormonally active contemporary agricultural pesticides.