Occupational pesticide exposure in early pregnancy associated with sex-specific neurobehavioral deficits in the children at school age

Helle Raun Andersen, Frodi Debes, Christine Wohlfahrt-Veje, Katsuyuki Murata, Philippe Grandjean

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Prenatal exposure to pesticides may affect neurodevelopment, while the impact of modern pesticides is unclear. From 1997-2001, women working in greenhouse horticultures were recruited at the beginning of their pregnancy. Based on detailed interview of the women and their employers, those categorized as occupationally exposed to pesticides were moved to unexposed work functions or went on paid leave, while women without any exposure were considered unexposed controls. Of the resulting birth cohort of 203 children, 133 (65%) were examined at age 6 to 11years together with 44 newly recruited children of same age whose mothers were not occupationally exposed to pesticides in pregnancy. All children underwent a standardized examination including a battery of neurodevelopmental tests. Maternal occupational pesticide exposure in early pregnancy was associated with prolonged brainstem auditory evoked potential latencies in the children as a whole and with impaired neuropsychological function in girls, while no effect was apparent in boys. In girls, language and motor speed functions were significantly inversely associated with prenatal exposure, and a non-significant tendency toward decreased function was also seen for other neuropsychological outcomes. A structural equation model that combined all these test results showed an overall impaired neuropsychological function in girls prenatally exposed to pesticides. Thus, our findings suggest an adverse effect of maternal occupational pesticide exposure on their children's neurodevelopment, despite the fact that the exposures occurred solely during early pregnancy and under well regulated working conditions, where special measures to protect pregnant women were applied.

TidsskriftNeurotoxicology and Teratology
Sider (fra-til)1-9
StatusUdgivet - 2015

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