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Ambient exposure to agricultural pesticides during pregnancy and risk of cerebral palsy: A population-based study in California

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  • Zeyan Liew
  • Ondine S. von Ehrenstein, University of California at Los Angeles
  • ,
  • Chenxiao Ling, University of California at Los Angeles
  • ,
  • Yuying Yuan, University of California at Los Angeles
  • ,
  • Qi Meng, University of California at Los Angeles
  • ,
  • Xin Cui, Stanford University, California Perinatal Quality Care Collaborative
  • ,
  • Andrew S. Park, University of California at Los Angeles
  • ,
  • Peter Uldall, University of Copenhagen
  • ,
  • Jørn Olsen
  • Myles Cockburn, University of Southern California, University of Colorado Denver
  • ,
  • Beate Ritz, University of California at Los Angeles

Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common neuro-motor disability in young children. Disruptions of maternal hormone function during pregnancy have been linked to CP risk. We investigated whether prenatal exposure to pesticide compounds with endocrine-disrupting action affect CP risk. We conducted a case-control study of 3905 CP cases and 39,377 controls born between 1998 and 2010 in California to mothers who lived in proximity (within 2 km) to any agricultural pesticide application recorded in the California Pesticide Use Reporting (PUR) system. We focused on 23 pesticides considered endocrine disruptors that are frequently used, and we found that exposure to any of the 23 pesticides in the first trimester was associated with elevated CP risks in female offspring (OR = 1.19; 95% CI: 1.05-1.35) but not males (OR = 0.99; 95% CI: 0.89-1.09) compared to the unexposed offspring. Positive associations were estimated for 15 pesticides suspected to affect the estrogen and 7 pesticides suspected to affect the thyroid hormone system. Our study suggests that first trimester exposure to pesticides that are suspected endocrine disruptors are associated with CP risk in female offspring. Pesticide exposures in early pregnancy may have sex-specific influences on the neuro-motor development of the fetus by interfering with endocrine systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number52
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

    Research areas

  • Cerebral palsy, Endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC), Movement disorders, Neurodevelopment, Pesticide

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