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J Agromedicine. 2007;12(1):27-37.

Reproductive disorders associated with pesticide exposure.

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Department of Obstetrics, University of Kansas School of Medicine, Wichita, KS 67214, USA.


Exposure of men or women to certain pesticides at sufficient doses may increase the risk for sperm abnormalities, decreased fertility, a deficit of male children, spontaneous abortion, birth defects or fetal growth retardation. Pesticides from workplace or environmental exposures enter breast milk. Certain pesticides have been linked to developmental neurobehavioral problems, altered function of immune cells and possibly childhood leukemia. In well-designed epidemiologic studies, adverse reproductive or developmental effects have been associated with mixed pesticide exposure in occupational settings, particularly when personal protective equipment is not used. Every class of pesticides has at least one agent capable of affecting a reproductive or developmental endpoint in laboratory animals or people, including organophosphates, carbamates, pyrethroids, herbicides, fungicides, fumigants and especially organochlorines. Many of the most toxic pesticides have been banned or restricted in developed nations, but high exposures to these agents are still occurring in the most impoverished countries around the globe. Protective clothing, masks and gloves are more difficult to tolerate in hot, humid weather, or may be unavailable or unaffordable. Counseling patients who are concerned about reproductive and developmental effects of pesticides often involves helping them assess their exposure levels, weigh risks and benefits, and adopt practices to reduce or eliminate their absorbed dose. Patients may not realize that by the first prenatal care visit, most disruptions of organogenesis have already occurred. Planning ahead provides the best chance of lowering risk from pesticides and remediating other risk factors before conception.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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