Pesticide exposure has been linked to the damage of reproductive health and the endocrine system. The endocrine system is the collection of glands in the body that is responsible for regulating hormone levels. Many pesticides are endocrine disruptors, affecting critical processes of hormone production and functions of a healthy body.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found that disruption of the endocrine system can result in “reproductive disorders, birth defects, immune suppression, and other harmful effects.”
- Reproductive health diseases and disorders include reduced fertility, birth defects, developmental disorders, and preterm birth.
- According to the National Institutes of Health, exposure to environmental pollutants and endocrine disruptors may pose the greatest threat to reproductive health.
From Mother to Child
A growing body of evidence shows that pesticides can damage human reproductive health, with particularly high risks for pregnant women and fetuses.
- Pesticides, once metabolized, can pass through the placenta, which means that a mother’s exposure to pesticides from her food and environment can lead to exposure of her fetus.
- In a recent study, 100 percent of pregnant women who consumed potatoes, corn, and soybeans that had been genetically modified to be pesticide-tolerant had metabolites of one of the herbicides in the cord blood of their babies.
- Reproductive exposures to pesticides can lead to permanent changes in the genetics of individuals altering the expression of genes (epigenetic effects).
- In some studies, pesticide exposures in mice lead to genetic changes passed along to subsequent generations resulting in mental disorders and obesity.
- Emerging science links exposure to pesticides in the womb to a higher likelihood that a child will develop metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes.
- The number of U.S. children who are clinically obese has more than tripled in the past 30 years.
For More Information
What You Can Do: For tips on how to make healthy choices in your home. Learn More
Keeping Kids Healthy: Read about our programs that keep children healthy. Learn More
Cancer: Learn more about how pesticides are associated with many types of cancer. Learn More
Photo courtesy of Aaron Ehinger