Garry VF, Schreinemachers D, Harkins ME, Griffith J, “Pesticide appliers, biocides, and birth defects in rural Minnesota,” Environmental Health Perspectives, 1996, 104:4.
Earlier studies by our group suggested the possibility that offspring of pesticide appliers might have increased risks of birth anomalies. To evaluate this hypothesis, 935 births to 34,772 state-licensed, private pesticide appliers in Minnesota occurring between 1989 and 1992 were linked to the Minnesota state birth registry containing 210,723 live births in this timeframe. The birth defect rate for all birth anomalies was significantly increased in children born to private appliers. Specific birth defect categories, circulatory/respiratory, urogenital, and musculoskeletal/integumental, showed significant increases. For the general population and for appliers, the birth anomaly rate differed by corp-growing region. Western Minnesota, a major wheat, sugar beet, and potato growing region, showed the highest rate of birth anomalies per/1000 live births: 30.0 for private appliers versus 26.9 for the general population of the same region. The lowest rates, 23.7/1000 for private appliers versus 18.3/1000 for the general population, occurred in noncorp regions. The highest frequency of use of chlorophenoxy herbicides and fungicides also occurred in western Minnesota. Births in the general population of western Minnesota showed a significant increase in birth anomalies in the same three birth anomaly categories as appliers and for FULL TEXTanomalies. This increase was most pronounced for infants conceived in the spring. The seasonal effect did not occur in other regions. The male/female sex ratio for the four birth anomaly categories of interest in areas of high phenoxy herbicide/fungicide use is 2.8 for appliers versus 1.5 for the general population of the same region (p = 0.05). In minimal use regions, this ratio is 2.1 for appliers versus 1.7 for the general population. The pattern of excess frequency of birth anomalies by pesticide use, season, and alteration of sex ratio suggests exposure-related effects in appliers and the general population of the crop-growing region of western Minnesota.