A Review of Human Studies on the Reproductive and Developmental Effects of Pesticide Exposure

Many pesticides cxause reproductive or developmental toxicity at high doses in animal models, but effects in humans at environmental exposure levels are difficult to assess. Human data on reproductive and developmental outcomes for currently used pesticides may help to define risks associated with pesticide use. A comprehensive literature review of studies of the reproductive and developemntal effects of pesticide exposure in humans was conducted in order to assess the available data for all relevant outcomes. Out of a atotal of 257 publications reviewed, 52% provided some information on specific pesticide exposure and the remainder provided limited or no information on the type of pesticides used. The pesticides dichlorodiphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT), dibromochloropropane (DBCP), Agent Orange, lindane, and pentachlorophenol (PCP) comprised 65% of the human studies of specific pesticide exposure. There were studies available for 19 other pesticides and only case reports for an additional 7. Studies reported significant associations of pesticide exposure with effexts on male reproduxction, fertility,spontaneous abortion, birth weight, birth defects, postnatal development, and childhood cancer. The available studies raise questions about the safety of some pesticides for reproduction and development and provide insufficient data for a number of others. More specific investigations that include thorough exposure information and examination of a broad spectrum of reproductive and developmental outcomes are needed.


LAESSIG, S., S. A. TABACOVA, AND C. A. KIMMEL. A Review of Human Studies on the Reproductive and Developmental Effects of Pesticide Exposure. JOURNAL OF CHILDREN'S HEALTH. Journal of Children's Health, Weston, MA, 1(4):405-447, (2003).