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Environ Health Perspect. 2003 Dec;111(16):1958-62.

Effect of endosulfan on male reproductive development.

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  • 1National Institute of Occupational Health (Indian Council of Medical Research), Meghani Nagar, Ahmedabad, India.


There is experimental evidence of adverse effects of endosulfan on the male reproductive system, but there are no human data. Therefore, we undertook a study to examine the relationship between environmental endosulfan exposure and reproductive development in male children and adolescents. The study population was composed of 117 male schoolchildren (10-19 years of age) of a village situated at the foothills of cashew plantations, where endosulfan had been aerially sprayed for more than 20 years, and 90 comparable controls with no such exposure history. The study parameters included recording of clinical history, physical examination, sexual maturity rating (SMR) according to Tanner stages, and estimation of serum levels of testosterone, luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone, and endosulfan residues (70 study and 47 control subjects). Mean +/- SE serum endosulfan levels in the study group (7.47 +/- 1.19 ppb) were significantly higher (p < 0.001) than in controls (1.37 +/- 0.40 ppb). Multiple regression analysis showed that SMR scoring for development of pubic hair, testes, penis, and serum testosterone level was positively related to age and negatively related to aerial exposure to endosulfan (AEE; p < 0.01). Serum LH levels were significantly positively related to AEE after controlling for age (p < 0.01). The prevalence of congenital abnormalities related to testicular descent (congenital hydrocele, undescended testis, and congenital inguinal hernia) among study and controls subjects was 5.1% and 1.1%, respectively, but the differences were statistically nonsignificant. Our study results suggest that endosulfan exposure in male children may delay sexual maturity and interfere with sex hormone synthesis. Our study is limited by small sample size and nonparticipation.

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