Silver et al., 2021

Silver, M. K., Fernandez, J., Tang, J., McDade, A., Sabino, J., Rosario, Z., Velez Vega, C., Alshawabkeh, A., Cordero, J. F., & Meeker, J. D.; “Prenatal Exposure to Glyphosate and Its Environmental Degradate, Aminomethylphosphonic Acid (AMPA), and Preterm Birth: A Nested Case-Control Study in the PROTECT Cohort (Puerto Rico);” Environmental Health Perspectives, 2021, 129(5), 57011; DOI: 10.1289/EHP7295.


BACKGROUND: Glyphosate (GLY) is the most heavily used herbicide in the world. Despite nearly ubiquitous exposure, few studies have examined prenatal GLY exposure and potentially adverse pregnancy outcomes. Preterm birth (PTB) is a risk factor for neonatal mortality and adverse health effects in childhood.

OBJECTIVES: We examined prenatal exposure to GLY and a highly persistent environmental degradate of GLY, aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), and odds of PTB in a nested case-control study within the ongoing Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats (PROTECT) pregnancy cohort in northern Puerto Rico.

METHODS: GLY and AMPA in urine samples collected at 18+/-2 (Visit 1) and 26+/-2 (Visit 3) wk gestation (53 cases/194 randomly selected controls) were measured using gas chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Multivariable logistic regression was used to estimate associations with PTB (delivery <37wk completed gestation).

RESULTS: Detection rates in controls were 77.4% and 77.5% for GLY and 52.8% and 47.7% for AMPA, and geometric means (geometric standard deviations) were 0.44 (2.50) and 0.41 (2.56) mug/L for GLY and 0.25 (3.06) and 0.20 (2.87) mug/L for AMPA, for Visits 1 and 3, respectively. PTB was significantly associated with specific gravity-corrected urinary GLY and AMPA at Visit 3, whereas associations with levels at Visit 1 and the Visits 1-3 average were largely null or inconsistent. Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for an interquartile range increase in exposure at Visit 3 were 1.35 (95% CI: 0.99, 1.83) and 1.67 (95% CI: 1.26, 2.20) for GLY and AMPA, respectively. ORs for Visit 1 and the visit average were closer to the null.

DISCUSSION: Urine GLY and AMPA levels in samples collected near the 26th week of pregnancy were associated with increased odds of PTB in this modestly sized nested case-control study. Given the widespread use of GLY, multiple potential sources of AMPA, and AMPA’s persistence in the environment, as well as the potential for long-term adverse health effects in preterm infants, further investigation in other populations is warranted.