Pesticide exposure has been linked to the damage of reproductive health and the endocrine system. The endocrine system encompasses a collection of glands in the body responsible for regulating hormone levels. Many pesticides disrupt the endocrine system, affecting critical processes of hormone production and functions of a healthy body.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that the disruption of the endocrine system can cause “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 clinically obese U.S. children 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