Bibliography Tag: birth defects

Larsen et al., 2017

Larsen, A. E., Gaines, S. D., & Deschenes, O.; “Agricultural pesticide use and adverse birth outcomes in the San Joaquin Valley of California;” Nature Communications, 2017, 8(1), 302; DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-00349-2.


Virtually all agricultural communities worldwide are exposed to agricultural pesticides. Yet, the health consequences of such exposure are poorly understood, and the scientific literature remains ambiguous. Using individual birth and demographic characteristics for over 500 000 birth observations between 1997-2011 in the agriculturally dominated San Joaquin Valley, California, we statistically investigate if residential agricultural pesticide exposure during gestation, by trimester, and by toxicity influences birth weight, gestational length, or birth abnormalities. Overall, our analysis indicates that agricultural pesticide exposure increases adverse birth outcomes by 5-9%, but only among the population exposed to very high quantities of pesticides (e.g., top 5th percentile, i.e., ~4200 kg applied over gestation). Thus, policies and interventions targeting the extreme right tail of the pesticide distribution near human habitation could largely eliminate the adverse birth outcomes associated with agricultural pesticide exposure documented in this study.The health consequences of exposure to pesticides are uncertain and subject to much debate. Here, the effect of exposure during pregnancy is investigated in an agriculturally dominated residential area, showing that an increase in adverse birth outcomes is observed with very high levels of pesticide exposure. FULL TEXT

Cattani et al., 2017

Cattani, D., Cesconetto, P. A., Tavares, M. K., Parisotto, E. B., De Oliveira, P. A., Rieg, C. E. H., Leite, M. C., Prediger, R. D. S., Wendt, N. C., Razzera, G., Filho, D. W., & Zamoner, A., “Developmental exposure to glyphosate-based herbicide and depressive-like behavior in adult offspring: Implication of glutamate excitotoxicity and oxidative stress,” Toxicology, 2017, 387, 67-80. DOI: 10.1016/j.tox.2017.06.001.


We have previously demonstrated that maternal exposure to glyphosate-based herbicide (GBH) leads to glutamate excitotoxicity in 15-day-old rat hippocampus. The present study was conducted in order to investigate the effects of subchronic exposure to GBH on some neurochemical and behavioral parameters in immature and adult offspring. Rats were exposed to 1% GBH in drinking water (corresponding to 0.36% of glyphosate) from gestational day 5 until postnatal day (PND)-15 or PND60. Results showed that GBH exposure during both prenatal and postnatal periods causes oxidative stress, affects cholinergic and glutamatergic neurotransmission in offspring hippocampus from immature and adult rats. The subchronic exposure to the pesticide decreased L-[(14)C]-glutamate uptake and increased (45)Ca(2+) influx in 60-day-old rat hippocampus, suggesting a persistent glutamate excitotoxicity from developmental period (PND15) to adulthood (PND60). Moreover, GBH exposure alters the serum levels of the astrocytic protein S100B. The effects of GBH exposure were associated with oxidative stress and depressive-like behavior in offspring on PND60, as demonstrated by the prolonged immobility time and decreased time of climbing observed in forced swimming test. The mechanisms underlying the GBH-induced neurotoxicity involve the NMDA receptor activation, impairment of cholinergic transmission, astrocyte dysfunction, ERK1/2 overactivation, decreased p65 NF-kappaB phosphorylation, which are associated with oxidative stress and glutamate excitotoxicity. These neurochemical events may contribute, at least in part, to the depressive-like behavior observed in adult offspring. FULL TEXT

Milesi et al., 2018

Milesi, Maria M, Lorenz, Virginia, Pacini, Guillermina, Repetti, Maria R, Demonte, Luisina D, Varayoud, Jorgelina, & Luque, Enrique H, “Perinatal exposure to a glyphosate-based herbicide impairs female reproductive outcomes and induces second-generation adverse effects in Wistar rats,” Archives of Toxicology, 2018, 92(8), 2629-2643. DOI: 10.1007/s00204-018-2236-6.


Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) are the most globally used herbicides raising the risk of environmental exposition. Here, we investigated whether perinatal exposure to low doses of a GBH alters the female reproductive performance, and/or induced second-generation effects related to congenital anomalies or growth alterations. Pregnant rats (F0) received a GBH through food, in a dose of 2 mg (GBH-LD: GBH-low dose group) or 200 mg (GBH-HD: GBH-high dose group) of glyphosate/kg bw/day from gestational day (GD) 9 until weaning. Body weight gain and vaginal canal-opening of F1 females were recorded. Sexually mature F1 females were mated to evaluate their reproductive performance by assessing the pregnancy rate, and on GD19, the number of corpora lutea, the implantation sites (IS) and resorption sites. To analyze second-generation effects on F2 offspring, we analyzed the fetal morphology on GD19, and assessed the fetal length and weight, and the placental weight. GBH exposure neither altered the body weight gain of F1 females, nor vaginal opening onset. Although all GBH-exposed F1 rats became pregnant, a lower number of IS was detected. F2 offspring from both GBH groups showed delayed growth, evidenced by lower fetal weight and length, associated with a higher incidence of small for gestational age fetuses. In addition, higher placental weight and placental index were found in F2 offspring from GBH-HD dams. Surprisingly, structural congenital anomalies (conjoined fetuses and abnormally developed limbs) were detected in the F2 offspring from GBH-HD group. In conclusion, perinatal exposure to low doses of a GBH impaired female reproductive performance and induced fetal growth retardation and structural congenital anomalies in F2 offspring. FULL TEXT

Wigle et al., 2008

Donald T. Wigle , Tye E. Arbuckle , Michelle C. Turner , Annie Bérubé , Qiuying Yang , Shiliang Liu & Daniel Krewski, “Epidemiologic Evidence of Relationships Between Reproductive and Child Health Outcomes and Environmental Chemical Contaminants,” Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B, 11, 2008, DOI: 10.1080/10937400801921320


This review summarizes the level of epidemiologic evidence for relationships between prenatal and/or early life exposure to environmental chemical contaminants and fetal, child, and adult health. Discussion focuses on fetal loss, intrauterine growth restriction, preterm birth, birth defects, respiratory and other childhood diseases, neuropsychological deficits, premature or delayed sexual maturation, and certain adult cancers linked to fetal or childhood exposures. Environmental exposures considered here include chemical toxicants in air, water, soil/house dust and foods (including human breast milk), and consumer products. Reports reviewed here included original epidemiologic studies (with at least basic descriptions of methods and results), literature reviews, expert group reports, meta-analyses, and pooled analyses. Levels of evidence for causal relationships were categorized as sufficient, limited, or inadequate according to predefined criteria. There was sufficient epidemiological evidence for causal relationships between several adverse pregnancy or child health outcomes and prenatal or childhood exposure to environmental chemical contaminants. These included prenatal high-level methylmercury (CH3Hg) exposure (delayed developmental milestones and cognitive, motor, auditory, and visual deficits), high-level prenatal exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), and related toxicants (neonatal tooth abnormalities, cognitive and motor deficits), maternal active smoking (delayed conception, preterm birth, fetal growth deficit [FGD] and sudden infant death syndrome [SIDS]) and prenatal environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure (preterm birth), low-level childhood lead exposure (cognitive deficits and renal tubular damage), high-level childhood CH3Hg exposure (visual deficits), high-level childhood exposure to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) (chloracne), childhood ETS exposure (SIDS, new-onset asthma, increased asthma severity, lung and middle ear infections, and adult breast and lung cancer), childhood exposure to biomass smoke (lung infections), and childhood exposure to outdoor air pollutants (increased asthma severity). Evidence for some proven relationships came from investigation of relatively small numbers of children with high-dose prenatal or early childhood exposures, e.g., CH3Hg poisoning episodes in Japan and Iraq. In contrast, consensus on a causal relationship between incident asthma and ETS exposure came only recently after many studies and prolonged debate. There were many relationships supported by limited epidemiologic evidence, ranging from several studies with fairly consistent findings and evidence of dose-response relationships to those where 20 or more studies provided inconsistent or otherwise less than convincing evidence of an association. The latter included childhood cancer and parental or childhood exposures to pesticides. In most cases, relationships supported by inadequate epidemiologic evidence reflect scarcity of evidence as opposed to strong evidence of no effect. This summary points to three main needs: (1) Where relationships between child health and environmental exposures are supported by sufficient evidence of causal relationships, there is a need for (a) policies and programs to minimize population exposures and (b) population-based biomonitoring to track exposure levels, i.e., through ongoing or periodic surveys with measurements of contaminant levels in blood, urine and other samples. (2) For relationships supported by limited evidence, there is a need for targeted research and policy options ranging from ongoing evaluation of evidence to proactive actions. (3) There is a great need for population-based, multidisciplinary and collaborative research on the many relationships supported by inadequate evidence, as these represent major knowledge gaps. Expert groups faced with evaluating epidemiologic evidence of potential causal relationships repeatedly encounter problems in summarizing the available data. A major driver for undertaking such summaries is the need to compensate for the limited sample sizes of individual epidemiologic studies. Sample size limitations are major obstacles to exploration of prenatal, paternal, and childhood exposures during specific time windows, exposure intensity, exposure–exposure or exposure–gene interactions, and relatively rare health outcomes such as childhood cancer. Such research needs call for investments in research infrastructure, including human resources and methods development (standardized protocols, biomarker research, validated exposure metrics, reference analytic laboratories). These are needed to generate research findings that can be compared and subjected to pooled analyses aimed at knowledge synthesis.

Bradman et al., 2013

Bradman, Asa; Kogut, Katherine; Eisen, Ellen A; Jewell, Nicholas P; Quiros-Alcala, Lesliam; Castorina, Rosemary; Chevrier, Jonathan; Holland, Nina T;  Barr, Dana Boyd; Kavanagh-Baird, Geri; Eskenazi, Brenda, “Variability of organophosphorous pesticide metabolite levels in spot and 24-hr urine samples collected from young children during 1 week,” Environmental Health Perspectives, 2013, 121:118-124. DOI:10.1289/ehp.1104808.


BACKGROUND: Dialkyl phosphate (DAP) metabolites in spot urine samples are frequently used to characterize children’s exposures to organophosphorous (OP) pesticides. However, variable exposure and short biological half-lives of OP pesticides could result in highly variable measurements, leading to exposure misclassification.

OBJECTIVE: We examined within- and between-child variability in DAP metabolites in urine samples collected during 1 week.

METHODS: We collected spot urine samples over 7 consecutive days from 25 children (3-6 years of age). On two of the days, we collected 24-hr voids. We assessed the reproducibility of urinary DAP metabolite concentrations and evaluated the sensitivity and specificity of spot urine samples as predictors of high (top 20%) or elevated (top 40%) weekly average DAP metabolite concentrations.

RESULTS: Within-child variance exceeded between-child variance by a factor of two to eight, depending on metabolite grouping. Although total DAP concentrations in single spot urine samples were moderately to strongly associated with concentrations in same-day 24-hr samples (r approximately 0.6-0.8, p < 0.01), concentrations in spot samples collected > 1 day apart and in 24-hr samples collected 3 days apart were weakly correlated (r approximately -0.21 to 0.38). Single spot samples predicted high (top 20%) and elevated (top 40%) full-week average total DAP excretion with only moderate sensitivity ( approximately 0.52 and approximately 0.67, respectively) but relatively high specificity ( approximately 0.88 and approximately 0.78, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: The high variability we observed in children’s DAP metabolite concentrations suggests that single-day urine samples provide only a brief snapshot of exposure. Sensitivity analyses suggest that classification of cumulative OP exposure based on spot samples is prone to type 2 classification errors.  FULL TEXT

Bradman et al., 2003

Bradman A, Barr DB, Claus Henn BG, Drumheller T, Curry C, Eskenazi B, “Measurement of pesticides and other toxicants in amniotic fluid as a potential biomarker of prenatal exposure: a validation study,” Environmental Health Perspectives, 2003, 111:1779-1782. DOI:10.1289/ehp.6259.


Prenatal pesticide exposures may adversely affect children’s health. However, exposure and health research is hampered by the lack of reliable fetal exposure data. No studies have been published that report measurements of commonly used nonpersistent pesticides in human amniotic fluid, although recent studies of pesticides in urine from pregnant women and in meconium indicate that fetuses are exposed to these chemicals. Amniotic fluid collected during amniocentesis is the only medium available to characterize direct fetal exposures early in pregnancy (approximately 18 weeks of gestation). As a first step in validating this exposure biomarker, we collected 100 amniotic fluid samples slated for disposal and evaluated analytical methods to measure organophosphate and carbamate pesticides and metabolites, synthetic pyrethroid metabolites, herbicides, and chlorinated phenolic compounds. The following six phenols were detected (detection frequency): 1- and 2-naphthol (70%), 2,5-dichlorophenol (55%), carbofuranphenol (5%), ortho-phenylphenol (30%), and pentachlorophenol (15%), with geometric mean concentrations of 0.72, 0.39, 0.12, 0.13, and 0.23 microg/L, respectively, for positive values. The organophosphate metabolites diethylphosphate and dimethylphosphate were detected in two (10%) samples, and dimethylthiophosphate was detected in one (5%) sample, with geometric mean concentrations of 0.31, 0.32, and 0.43 microg/L, respectively, for positive values. These levels are low compared with levels reported in urine, blood, and meconium in other studies, but indicate direct exposures to the young fetus, possibly during critical periods of development. Results of this pilot study suggest that amniotic fluid offers a unique opportunity to investigate fetal exposures and health risks.  FULL TEXT

Mao et al., 2018

Mao, Q., Manservisi, F., Panzacchi, S., Mandrioli, D., Menghetti, I., Vornoli, A., Bua, L., Falcioni, L., Lesseur, C., Chen, J., Belpoggi, F., & Hu, J., “The Ramazzini Institute 13-week pilot study on glyphosate and Roundup administered at human-equivalent dose to Sprague Dawley rats: effects on the microbiome,” Environmental Health, 17(1), 50, 2018. doi:10.1186/s12940-018-0394-x.


BACKGROUND: Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) are broad-spectrum herbicides that act on the shikimate pathway in bacteria, fungi, and plants. The possible effects of GBHs on human health are the subject of an intense public debate for both its potential carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic effects, including its effects on microbiome. The present pilot study examines whether exposure to GBHs at doses of glyphosate considered to be “safe” (the US Acceptable Daily Intake – ADI – of 1.75 mg/kg bw/day), starting from in utero, may modify the composition of gut microbiome in Sprague Dawley (SD) rats.

METHODS: Glyphosate alone and Roundup, a commercial brand of GBHs, were administered in drinking water at doses comparable to the US glyphosate ADI (1.75 mg/kg bw/day) to F0 dams starting from the gestational day (GD) 6 up to postnatal day (PND) 125. Animal feces were collected at multiple time points from both F0 dams and F1 pups. The gut microbiota of 433 fecal samples were profiled at V3-V4 region of 16S ribosomal RNA gene and further taxonomically assigned and assessed for diversity analysis. We tested the effect of exposure on overall microbiome diversity using PERMANOVA and on individual taxa by LEfSe analysis.

RESULTS: Microbiome profiling revealed that low-dose exposure to Roundup and glyphosate resulted in significant and distinctive changes in overall bacterial composition in F1 pups only. Specifically, at PND31, corresponding to pre-pubertal age in humans, relative abundance for Bacteriodetes (Prevotella) was increased while the Firmicutes (Lactobacillus) was reduced in both Roundup and glyphosate exposed F1 pups compared to controls.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides initial evidence that exposures to commonly used GBHs, at doses considered safe, are capable of modifying the gut microbiota in early development, particularly before the onset of puberty. These findings warrant future studies on potential health effects of GBHs in early development such as childhood. FULL TEXT

Landrigan and Belpoggi, 2018

Landrigan, P. J., and Belpoggi, F.,”The need for independent research on the health effects of glyphosate-based herbicides,” Environmental Health, 17(1), 51, 2018, doi:10.1186/s12940-018-0392-z.


BACKGROUND: Glyphosate, formulated as Roundup, is the world’s most widely used herbicide. Glyphosate is used extensively on genetically modified (GM) food crops designed to tolerate the herbicide, and global use is increasing rapidly. Two recent reviews of glyphosate’s health hazards report conflicting results. An independent review by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found that glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen”. A review by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) found no evidence of carcinogenic hazard. These differing findings have produced regulatory uncertainty.

REGULATORY ACTIONS: Reflecting this regulatory uncertainty, the European Commission on November 27 2017, extended authorization for glyphosate for another 5 years, while the European Parliament opposed this decision and issued a call that pesticide approvals be based on peer-reviewed studies by independent scientists rather than on the current system that relies on proprietary industry studies.

RAMAZZINI INSTITUTE RESPONSE: The Ramazzini Institute has initiated a pilot study of glyphosate’s health hazards that will be followed by an integrated experimental research project. This evaluation will be independent of industry support and entirely sponsored by worldwide crowdfunding. The aim of the Ramazzini Institute project is to explore comprehensively the effects of exposures to glyphosate-based herbicides at current real-world levels on several toxicological endpoints, including carcinogenicity, long-term toxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine disrupting effects, prenatal developmental toxicity, the microbiome and multi-generational effects. FULL TEXT

Landrigan, 2018

Philip J. Landrigan, “Pesticides and Human Reproduction,” JAMA Internal Medicine, 2018, 178:1, DOI:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.5092


Invited commentary by Managing Weeds for Healthy Kids science team member Dr. Landrigan reports that herbicide use has increased sharply, with glyphosate use up 250-fold from 1974 to 2014.  And, “measurable levels of multiple pesticides are found in the bodies of nearly all Americans…and pesticides are capable of causing a wide range of asymptomatic effects at levels of exposure too low to produce overt signs and symptoms.”  New theories suggest that long term exposure to pesticides cause this kind of subclinical toxicity.  Dr. Landrigan reviews the known linkages, including in utero chlorpyrifos exposure leading to neurodevelopmental deficits, and reproductive injury including adverse birth outcomes and birth defects. He recommends: “We need to overcome the strident objections of the pesticide manufacturing industry, recognize the hidden costs of deregulation, and strengthen requirements for both premarket testing of new pesticides, as well as postmarketing surveillance of exposed populations— exactly as we do for another class of potent, biologically active molecules—drugs.”  FULL TEXT

Winston et al., 2016

Jennifer J. Winston, Michael Emch, Robert E. Meyer, Peter Langlois, Peter Weyer, Bridget Mosley, Andrew F. Olshan, Lawrence E. Band, Thomas J. Luben and the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, “Hypospadias and maternal exposure to atrazine via drinking water in the National Birth Defects Prevention study,” Environmental Health, 15:76, DOI: 10.1186/s12940-016-0161-9


BACKGROUND: Hypospadias is a relatively common birth defect affecting the male urinary tract. It has been suggested that exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals might increase the risk of hypospadias by interrupting normal urethral development.

METHODS: Using data from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, a population-based case-control study, we considered the role of maternal exposure to atrazine, a widely used herbicide and potential endocrine disruptor, via drinking water in the etiology of 2nd and 3rd degree hypospadias. We used data on 343 hypospadias cases and 1,422 male controls in North Carolina, Arkansas, Iowa, and Texas from 1998–2005. Using catchment level stream and groundwater contaminant models from the US Geological Survey, we estimated atrazine concentrations in public water supplies and in private wells. We assigned case and control mothers to public water supplies based on geocoded maternal address during the critical window of exposure for hypospadias (i.e., gestational weeks 6–16). Using maternal questionnaire data about water consumption and drinking water, we estimated a surrogate for total maternal consumption of atrazine via drinking water. We then included additional maternal covariates, including age, race/ethnicity, parity, and plurality, in logistic regression analyses to consider an association between atrazine and hypospadias.

RESULTS: When controlling for maternal characteristics, any association between hypospadias and daily maternal atrazine exposure during the critical window of genitourinary development was found to be weak or null (odds ratio for atrazine in drinking water = 1. 00, 95 % CI = 0.97 to 1.03 per 0.04 μg/day increase; odds ratio for maternal consumption = 1.02, 95 % CI = 0.99 to 1.05; per 0.05 μg/day increase).

CONCLUSIONS: While the association that we observed was weak, our results suggest that additional research into a possible association between atrazine and hypospadias occurrence, using a more sensitive exposure metric, would be useful.  FULL TEXT