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Epidemiology. 2003 Jul;14(4):429-36.

Risk factors for female infertility in an agricultural region.

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  • 1Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, WI 54449, USA.



Recent studies have suggested that agricultural occupations or exposure to pesticides may impair female fertility.


The Fertility Risk Factor Study retrospectively examined agricultural and residential exposures and the risk of female infertility. Cases and controls (N = 322 each) came from women who sought treatment at a large group medical clinic in Wisconsin. Women and their male partners provided information on health, occupational and lifestyle exposures in response to a telephone interview during 1997-2001.


Mixing and applying herbicides 2 years before attempting conception was more common among infertile women (odds ratio [OR] = 27; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.9-380), as was the use of fungicides (OR = 3.3; CI = 0.8-13). Residing on a farm, ranch or in a rural area during this time period was protective of female fertility. Households supplied with central Wisconsin groundwater were at less risk for infertility than households using municipal sources (OR = 0.6; CI = 0.4-0.9). Behavioral risk factors included alcohol consumption (OR = 1.8; 1.2-2.5), smoking (1.6; 0.9-2.9), passive smoke exposure (1.8; 1.2-2.5), steady weight gain in adult life (3.5; 2.0-6.1), and having a male partner over the age of 40 (4.5; 1.2-16.3). Drinking 3 or more glasses of milk per day was protective of female fertility (0.3; 0.1-0.7).


These results suggest that certain agricultural, residential and lifestyle choices may modify the risk of female infertility.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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