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Environ Health Perspect. 2004 Apr;112(5):542-7.

Reproductive effects of occupational DDT exposure among male malaria control workers.

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Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, Toluca, México.


To assess potential effects of human DDT [1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethane] exposure, we evaluated the reproductive history of 2,033 workers in the antimalaria campaign of Mexico. Data on occupational exposure to DDT and reproductive outcomes were gathered through a questionnaire, and workers provided information about 9,187 pregnancies. We estimated paternal exposure to DDT before each pregnancy using three approaches: a) a dichotomous indicator for pregnancies before and after exposure began, b) a qualitative index of four exposure categories, and c) an estimation of the DDT metabolite DDE [1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethylene] accumulated in fat. To assess associations, we used logistic regression models that accounted for correlated observations and adjusted for parents' age at each child's birth, exposure to other pesticides, exposure to chemical substances in other employment, smoking, and alcohol consumption. The odds ratio for birth defects comparing pregnancies after and before the first exposure was 3.77 [95% confidence interval (95% CI), 1.19-9.52]. Compared with the lowest quartile of estimated DDE in fat, the ORs were 2.48 (95% CI, 0.75-8.11), 4.15 (95% CI, 1.38-12.46), and 3.76 (95% CI, 1.23-11.44) for quartiles 2, 3, and 4, equivalent to p,p -DDE in fat of 50, 82, and 298 microg/g fat, respectively. No significant association was found for spontaneous abortion or sex ratio. We found an increased risk of birth defects associated with high occupational exposure to DDT in this group of workers. The significance of this association at lower exposure levels found in the general population remains uncertain.

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