Sheela Sathyanarayana MD MPH, Olga Basso PhD, Catherine J. Karr MD PhD MS, Paula Lozano MD MPH, Michael Alavanja PhD, Dale P. Sandler PhD & Jane A. Hoppin ScD, “Maternal Pesticide Use and Birth Weight in the Agricultural Health Study,” Journal of Agromedicine, 15:2, 2010, DOI: 10.1080/10599241003622699
Studies examining the association between maternal pesticide exposure and low birth weight yield conflicting results. The authors examined the association between maternal pesticide use and birth weight among women in the Agricultural Health Study, a large study of pesticide applicators and their spouses in Iowa and North Carolina. The authors evaluated self-reported pesticide use of 27 individual pesticides in relation to birth weight among 2246 farm women whose most recent singleton birth occurred within 5 years of enrollment (1993–1997). The authors used linear regression models adjusted for site, preterm birth, medical parity, maternal body mass index, height, and smoking. The results showed that mean infant birth weight was 3586 g (± 546 g), and 3% of the infants were low birth weight (<2500 g). First-trimester pesticide-related tasks were not associated with birth weight. Ever use of the pesticide carbaryl was associated with decreased birth weight (−82 g, 95% confidence interval [CI] = −132, −31). This study thus provides limited evidence about pesticide use as a modulator of birth weight. Overall, the authors observed no associations between birth weight and pesticide-related activities during early pregnancy; however, the authors have no data on temporal specificity of individual pesticide exposures prior to or during pregnancy and therefore cannot draw conclusions related to these exposure windows. Given the widespread exposure to pesticide products, additional evaluation of maternal pregnancy exposures at specific time windows and subsequent birth outcomes is warranted.