Pesticide Exposure and Self-Reported Gestational Diabetes Mellitus in the Agricultural Health Study

  1. Tina M. Saldana, PHD1,
  2. Olga Basso, PHD1,
  3. Jane A. Hoppin, SCD1,
  4. Donna D. Baird, PHD1,
  5. Charles Knott, MPA2,
  6. Aaron Blair, PHD3,
  7. Michael C.R. Alavanja, DRPH3 and
  8. Dale P. Sandler, PHD1
  1. 1Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
  2. 2Battelle Memorial Institute, Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation, Durham, North Carolina
  3. 3Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Tina Saldana, Post-doctoral Fellow, Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, P.O. Box 12233, MD A3-05, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709. E-mail: saldana{at}


OBJECTIVE—To examine the association between pesticide use during pregnancy and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) among wives of licensed pesticide applicators.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—Using data from the Agricultural Health Study (AHS), we estimated the association between self-reported pesticide-related activities during the first trimester of the most recent pregnancy and GDM among 11,273 women whose pregnancy occurred within 25 years of enrollment.

RESULTS—A total of 506 (4.5%) women reported having had GDM. Women who reported agricultural pesticide exposure (mixing or applying pesticides to crops or repairing pesticide application equipment) during pregnancy were more likely to report GDM (odds ratio [OR] 2.2 [95% CI 1.5–3.3]). We saw no association between residential pesticide exposure (applying pesticides in the home and garden during pregnancy) and GDM (1.0 [0.8–1.3]). Among women who reported agricultural exposure during pregnancy, risk of GDM was associated with ever-use of four herbicides (2,4,5-T; 2,4,5-TP; atrazine; or butylate) and three insecticides (diazinon, phorate, or carbofuran).

CONCLUSIONS—These findings suggest that activities involving exposure to agricultural pesticides during the first trimester of pregnancy may increase the risk of GDM.


  • A table elsewhere in this issue shows conventional and Système International (SI) units and conversion factors for many substances.

    The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. This article must therefore be hereby marked “advertisement” in accordance with 18 U.S.C Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact.

    • Accepted December 13, 2006.
    • Received August 31, 2006.
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