Birth Defects

Agopian et al, 2012

Agopian AJ, Lupo PJ, Canfield MA, Langlois PH, “Case-control study of maternal residential atrazine exposure and male genital malformations,” American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A, 2012, 161A:5, doi: 10.1002/ajmg.a.35815.

ABSTRACT: Exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals has been associated with risk for male genital malformations. However, residential prenatal exposure to atrazine, an endocrine disrupting pesticide, has not been evaluated. We obtained data from the Texas Birth Defects Registry for 16,433 cases with isolated male genital malformations and randomly selected, population-based controls delivered during 1999-2008. County-level estimates of atrazine exposure from the United States Geological Survey were linked to all subjects. We evaluated the relationship between estimated maternal residential atrazine exposure and risk for male genital malformations in offspring. Separate unconditional logistic regression analyses were conducted for hypospadias, cryptorchidism, and small penis. We observed modest, but consistent, associations between medium-low and/or medium levels of estimated periconceptional maternal residential atrazine exposure and every male genital malformation category evaluated (e.g., adjusted odds ratio for medium compared to low atrazine levels and all male genital malformations: 1.2, 95% confidence interval: 1.1-1.3). Previous literature from animal and epidemiological studies supports our findings. Our results provide further evidence of a suspected teratogenic role of atrazine.

Agopian et al., 2013

A.J. Agopian, PhD, Yi Cai, MS, Peter H. Langlois, PhD, Mark A. Canfield, PhD, and Philip J. Lupo, PhD, “Maternal Residential Atrazine Exposure and Risk for Choanal Atresia and Stenosis in Offspring,” Journal of Pediatrics 2013, 162:3, DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.08.012


OBJECTIVE: To assess the relationship between estimated residential maternal exposure to atrazine during pregnancy and the risk for choanal atresia or stenosis in offspring.

STUDY DESIGN: Data for 280 nonsyndromic cases and randomly selected, population-based controls delivered between 1999 and 2008 were obtained from the Texas Birth Defects Registry. County-level estimates of atrazine levels obtained from the US Geological Survey were assigned to cases and controls based on maternal county of residence at delivery. Unconditional logistic regression was used to assess the relationship between maternal residential atrazine exposure and the risk for choanal atresia or stenosis in offspring.

RESULTS: Compared with offspring of mothers with low levels of estimated residential atrazine exposure, those with high levels had nearly a 2-fold increase in risk for choanal atresia or stenosis (aOR, 1.79; 95% CI, 1.17-2.74). A significant linear trend was also observed with increasing levels of atrazine exposure (adjusted P = .002).

CONCLUSION: A link between maternal exposure to endocrine disruptors, such as atrazine, and the risk of choanal atresia is plausible based on previous findings. Our results lend further support to this hypothesis.  FULL TEXT

Antoniou et al., 2012

M Antoniou, MEM Habib,  CV Howard, RC Jennings, C Leifert, RO Nodari, CJ Robinson and J Fagan, “Teratogenic Effects of Glyphosate-Based Herbicides: Divergence of Regulatory Decisions from Scientific Evidence,” Environmental and Analytical Toxicology, S:4, 2012, DOI: 10.4172/2161-0525.S4-006.


The publication of a study in 2010, showing that a glyphosate herbicide formulation and glyphosate alone caused malformations in the embryos of Xenopus laevis and chickens through disruption of the retinoic acid signalling pathway, caused scientific and regulatory controversy. Debate centred on the effects of the production and consumption of genetically modified Roundup Ready® soy, which is engineered to tolerate applications of glyphosate herbicide. The study, along with others indicating teratogenic and reproductive effects from glyphosate herbicide exposure, was rebutted by the German Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety, BVL, as well as in industry-sponsored papers. These rebuttals relied partly on unpublished industry-sponsored studies commissioned for regulatory purposes, which, it was claimed, showed that glyphosate is not a teratogen or reproductive toxin.

However, examination of the German authorities’ draft assessment report on the industry studies, which underlies glyphosate’s EU authorisation, revealed further evidence of glyphosate’s teratogenicity. Many of the malformations found were of the type defined in the scientific literature as associated with retinoic acid teratogenesis. Nevertheless, the German and EU authorities minimized these findings in their assessment and set a potentially unsafe acceptable daily intake (ADI) level for glyphosate. This paper reviews the evidence on the teratogenicity and reproductive toxicity of glyphosate herbicides and concludes that a new and transparent risk assessment needs to be conducted. The new risk assessment must take into account all the data on the toxicity of glyphosate and its commercial formulations, including data generated by independent scientists and published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, as well as the industry-sponsored studies.  FULL TEXT

Avila-Vazquez et al., 2018

Avila-Vazquez, M., Difilippo, F.S., Lean, B.M., Maturano, E. and Etchegoyen, A., “Environmental Exposure to Glyphosate and Reproductive Health Impacts in Agricultural Population of Argentina,” Journal of Environmental Protection, 2018, 9, DOI: 10.4236/jep.2018.93016.


Argentina annually utilizes 240,000 tones of glyphosate in industrial agriculture and a change in the profile of morbidity is perceived for physicians of agricultural areas; now reproductive disorders seem to prevail. The objective of this study is to determine concurrence of glyphosate exposure and  reproductive disorders in a typical argentine agricultural town (Monte Maíz). An ecological study was developed with an environmental analysis of pollution sources including measurements of glyphosate and other pesticides and a cross-sectional study of spontaneous abortions and congenital abnormalities prevalence. Glyphosate was detected in soil and grain dust and was found to be at an even higher concentration in the village soil than in the rural area; 650 tonnes of glyphosate are used annually in the region and manipulated inner town contaminating the soil and dust in suspension of the town creating an burden of environmental exposure to glyphosate of 79 kg per person per year. We do not find other relevant sources of pollution. The spontaneous abortion and congenital abnormalities rates are three and two times higher than the national average reported by the national health (10% vs. 3% and 3% – 4.3% vs 1.4% respectively). Our study verified high environmental exposure to glyphosate in association with increased frequencies of reproductive disorders  (spontaneous abortion and congenital abnormalities) in argentine agricultural village, but is unable to make assertions cause-effect. Further studies are required with designs for such purposes. FULL TEXT

Benachour and Seralini, 2009.

Benachour N, Séralini GE, “Glyphosate formulations induce apoptosis and necrosis in human umbilical, embryonic, and placental cell,” Chemical Research in Toxicology, 2009, 22(1):97-105, doi: 10.1021/ tx800218n.

ABSTRACT: We have evaluated the toxicity of four glyphosate (G)-based herbicides in Roundup formulations, from 10(5) times dilutions, on three different human cell types. This dilution level is far below agricultural recommendations and corresponds to low levels of residues in food or feed. The formulations have been compared to G alone and with its main metabolite AMPA or with one known adjuvant of R formulations, POEA. HUVEC primary neonate umbilical cord vein cells have been tested with 293 embryonic kidney and JEG3 placental cell lines. All R formulations cause total cell death within 24 h, through an inhibition of the mitochondrial succinate dehydrogenase activity, and necrosis, by release of cytosolic adenylate kinase measuring membrane damage. They also induce apoptosis via activation of enzymatic caspases 3/7 activity. This is confirmed by characteristic DNA fragmentation, nuclear shrinkage (pyknosis), and nuclear fragmentation (karyorrhexis), which is demonstrated by DAPI in apoptotic round cells. G provokes only apoptosis, and HUVEC are 100 times more sensitive overall at this level. The deleterious effects are not proportional to G concentrations but rather depend on the nature of the adjuvants. AMPA and POEA separately and synergistically damage cell membranes like R but at different concentrations. Their mixtures are generally even more harmful with G. In conclusion, the R adjuvants like POEA change human cell permeability and amplify toxicity induced already by G, through apoptosis and necrosis. The real threshold of G toxicity must take into account the presence of adjuvants but also G metabolism and time-amplified effects or bioaccumulation. This should be discussed when analyzing the in vivo toxic actions of R. This work clearly confirms that the adjuvants in Roundup formulations are not inert. Moreover, the proprietary mixtures available on the market could cause cell damage and even death around residual levels to be expected, especially in food and feed derived from R formulation-treated crops.

Benachour et al., 2007

N. Benachour, H. Sipahutar, S. Moslemi, C. Gasnier, C. Travert, G. E. Séralini, “Time- and Dose-Dependent Effects of Roundup on Human Embryonic and Placental Cells,” Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 53:1, July 2007, DOI:


Roundup® is the major herbicide used worldwide, in particular on genetically modified plants that have been designed to tolerate it. We have tested the toxicity and endocrine disruption potential of Roundup (Bioforce®) on human embryonic 293 and placental-derived JEG3 cells, but also on normal human placenta and equine testis. The cell lines have proven to be suitable to estimate hormonal activity and toxicity of pollutants. The median lethal dose (LD50) of Roundup with embryonic cells is 0.3% within 1 h in serum-free medium, and it decreases to reach 0.06% (containing among other compounds 1.27 mM glyphosate) after 72 h in the presence of serum. In these conditions, the embryonic cells appear to be 2–4 times more sensitive than the placental ones. In all instances, Roundup (generally used in agriculture at 1–2%, i.e., with 21–42 mM glyphosate) is more efficient than its active ingredient, glyphosate, suggesting a synergistic effect provoked by the adjuvants present in Roundup. We demonstrated that serum-free cultures, even on a short-term basis (1 h), reveal the xenobiotic impacts that are visible 1–2 days later in serum. We also document at lower non-overtly toxic doses, from 0.01% (with 210 μM glyphosate) in 24 h, that Roundup is an aromatase disruptor. The direct inhibition is temperature-dependent and is confirmed in different tissues and species (cell lines from placenta or embryonic kidney, equine testicular, or human fresh placental extracts). Furthermore, glyphosate acts directly as a partial inactivator on microsomal aromatase, independently of its acidity, and in a dose-dependent manner. The cytotoxic, and potentially endocrine-disrupting effects of Roundup are thus amplified with time. Taken together, these data suggest that Roundup exposure may affect human reproduction and fetal development in case of contamination. Chemical mixtures in formulations appear to be underestimated regarding their toxic or hormonal impact.


Carmichael et al., 2016

Carmichael SL, Yang W, Roberts E, Kegley SE, Brown TJ, English PB, Lammer EJ, Shaw GM, “Residential agricultural pesticide exposures and risks of selected birth defects among offspring in the San Joaquin Valley of California,” Birth Defects Research Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology, 2016, 106:1, doi: 10.1002/bdra.23459.


BACKGROUND: We examined associations of birth defects with residential proximity to commercial agricultural pesticide applications in California. Subjects included 367 cases representing five types of birth defects and 785 nonmalformed controls born 1997 to 2006.

METHODS:Associations with any versus no exposure to physicochemical groups of pesticides and specific chemicals were assessed using logistic regression adjusted for covariates. Overall, 46% of cases and 38% of controls were classified as exposed to pesticides within a 500 m radius of mother’s address during a 3-month periconceptional window.

RESULTS:We estimated odds ratios (ORs) for 85 groups and 95 chemicals with five or more exposed cases and control mothers. Ninety-five percent confidence intervals (CI) excluded 1.0 for 11 ORs for groups and 22 ORs for chemicals, ranging from 1.9 to 3.1 for groups and 1.8 to 4.9 for chemicals except for two that were <1 (noted below).

CONCLUSION:For groups, these ORs were for anotia/microtia (n = 95 cases) and dichlorophenoxy acids/esters and neonicotinoids; anorectal atresia/stenosis (n = 77) and alcohol/ethers and organophosphates (these ORs were < 1.0); transverse limb deficiencies (n = 59) and dichlorophenoxy acids/esters, petroleum derivatives, and triazines; and craniosynostosis (n = 79) and alcohol/ethers, avermectins, neonicotinoids, and organophosphates. For chemicals, ORs were: anotia/microtia and five pesticides from the groups dichlorophenoxy acids/esters, copper-containing compounds, neonicotinoids, organophosphates, and triazines; transverse limb deficiency and six pesticides – oxyfluorfen and pesticides from the groups copper-containing compounds, 2,6-dinitroanilines, neonicotinoids, petroleum derivatives and polyalkyloxy compounds; craniosynostosis and 10 pesticides – oxyfluorfen and pesticides from the groups alcohol/ethers, avermectins, n-methyl-carbamates, neonicotinoids, ogranophosphates (two chemicals), polyalkyloxy compounds (two chemicals), and pyrethroids; and congenital diaphragmatic hernia (n = 62) and a copper-containing compound.

Chevrier et al., 2011

Cecile Chevrier, Gwendolina Limon, Christine Monfort, Florence Rouget, Ronan Garlantezec, et al., “Urinary biomarkers of prenatal atrazine exposure and adverse birth outcomes in the PELAGIE birth cohort,” Environmental Health Perspectives, 2011, 119:7, DOI: 10.1289/EHP.100277.


BACKGROUND:  Despite evidence of atrazine toxicity in developing organisms from experimental studies, few studies—and fewer epidemiologic investigations—have examined the potential effects of prenatal exposure.

OBJECTIVES: We assessed the association between adverse birth outcomes and urinary biomarkers of prenatal atrazine exposure, while taking into account exposures to other herbicides used on corn crops (simazine, alachlor, metolachlor, and acetochlor).

METHODS: This study used a case-cohort design nested in a prospective birth cohort conducted in the Brittany region of France from 2002 through 2006. We collected maternal urine samples to examine pesticide exposure biomarkers before the 19th week of gestation.

RESULTS: We found quantifiable levels of atrazine or atrazine mercapturate in urine samples from 5.5% of 579 pregnant women, and dealkylated and identified hydroxylated triazine metabolites in 20% and 40% of samples, respectively. The presence versus absence of quantifiable levels of atrazine or a specific atrazine metabolite was associated with fetal growth restriction [odds ratio (OR) = 1.5; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.0–2.2] and small head circumference for sex and gestational age (OR = 1.7; 95% CI, 1.0–2.7). Associations with major congenital anomalies were not evident with atrazine or its specific metabolites. Head circumference was inversely associated with the presence of quantifiable urinary metolachlor.

CONCLUSIONS: This study is the first to assess associations of birth outcomes with multiple urinary biomarkers of exposure to triazine and chloroacetanilide herbicides. Evidence of associations with adverse birth outcomes raises particular concerns for countries where atrazine is still in use.  FULL TEXT

Cimino et al., 2017

Andria M. Cimino, Abee L. Boyles, Kristina A. Thayer, and Melissa J. Perry, “Effects of Neonicotinoid Pesticide Exposure on Human Health: A Systematic Review,” Environmental Health Perspectives, 2017, 125:2, DOI: 10.1289/EHP515.


BACKGROUND: Numerous studies have identified detectable levels of neonicotinoids (neonics) in the environment, adverse effects of neonics in many species, including mammals, and pathways through which human exposure to neonics could occur, yet little is known about the human health effects of neonic exposure.

OBJECTIVE: In this systematic review, we sought to identify human population studies on the health effects of neonics.

METHODS: Studies published in English between 2005 and 2015 were searched using PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science databases. No restrictions were placed on the type of health outcome assessed. Risk of bias was assessed using guidance developed by the National Toxicology Program’s Office of Health Assessment and Translation.

RESULTS: Eight studies investigating the human health effects of exposure to neonics were identified. Four examined acute exposure: Three neonic poisoning studies reported two fatalities (n = 1,280 cases) and an occupational exposure study of 19 forestry workers reported no adverse effects. Four general population studies reported associations between chronic neonic exposure and adverse developmental or neurological outcomes, including tetralogy of Fallot (AOR 2.4, 95% CI: 1.1, 5.4), anencephaly (AOR 2.9, 95% CI: 1.0, 8.2), autism spectrum disorder [AOR 1.3, 95% credible interval (CrI): 0.78, 2.2], and a symptom cluster including memory loss and finger tremor (OR 14, 95% CI: 3.5, 57). Reported odds ratios were based on exposed compared to unexposed groups.

CONCLUSIONS: The studies conducted to date were limited in number with suggestive but methodologically weak findings related to chronic exposure. Given the wide-scale use of neonics, more studies are needed to fully understand their effects on human health.  FULL TEXT

Dallegrave et al., 2003

Eliane Dallegrave, Fabiana DiGiorgio Mantese, Ricardo Soares Coelho, Janaı´na Drawans Pereira, Paulo Roberto Dalsenter, Augusto Langeloh, “The teratogenic potential of the herbicide glyphosate-Roundup in Wistar rats,” Toxicology Letters, 142, 2003, DOI: 10.1016/S0378-4274(02)00483-6.


The aim of this study was to assess the teratogenicity of the herbicide glyphosate-Roundup† (as commercialized in Brazil) to Wistar rats. Dams were treated orally with water or 500, 750 or 1000 mg/kg glyphosate from day 6 to 15 of pregnancy. Cesarean sections were performed on day 21 of pregnancy, and number of corpora lutea, implantation sites, living and dead fetuses, and resorptions were recorded. Weight and gender of the fetuses were determined, and fetuses
were examined for external malformations and skeletal alterations. The organs of the dams were removed and weighed. Results showed a 50% mortality rate for dams treated with 1000 mg/kg glyphosate. Skeletal alterations were observed in 15.4, 33.1, 42.0 and 57.3% of fetuses from the control, 500, 750 and 1000 mg/kg glyphosate groups, respectively. We may conclude that glyphosate-Roundup† is toxic to the dams and induces developmental retardation of the fetal
skeleton.  FULL TEXT