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Birth Defects Res B Dev Reprod Toxicol. 2014 Jun;101(3):215-36. doi: 10.1002/bdrb.21101. Epub 2014 May 2.

Atrazine and pregnancy outcomes: a systematic review of epidemiologic evidence.

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Emory University School of Public Health, Atlanta, Georgia.


Atrazine (ATR) is a commonly used agricultural herbicide that has been the subject of epidemiologic studies assessing its relation to reproductive health problems. This review evaluates both the consistency and the quality of epidemiologic evidence testing the hypothesis that ATR exposure, at usually encountered levels, is a risk factor for birth defects, small for gestational age birth weight, prematurity, miscarriages, and problems of fetal growth and development. We followed the current methodological guidelines for systematic reviews by using two independent researchers to identify, retrieve, and evaluate the relevant epidemiologic literature on the relation of ATR to various adverse outcomes of birth and pregnancy. Each eligible paper was summarized with respect to its methods and results with particular attention to study design and exposure assessment, which have been cited as the main areas of weakness in ATR research. As a quantitative meta-analysis was not feasible, the study results were categorized qualitatively as positive, null, or mixed. The literature on ATR and pregnancy-related health outcomes is growing rapidly, but the quality of the data is poor with most papers using aggregate rather than individual-level information. Without good quality data, the results are difficult to assess; however, it is worth noting that none of the outcome categories demonstrated consistent positive associations across studies. Considering the poor quality of the data and the lack of robust findings across studies, conclusions about a causal link between ATR and adverse pregnancy outcomes are not warranted.


atrazine; birth defects; fetal growth; low birth weight; malformations; pregnancy; prematurity; small for gestational age; spontaneous abortion; triazines

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