US Ban on Insecticides Linked to Beneficial
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Mar 25 - A recent ban on the
residential use of two insecticides seems to have had a beneficial
effect on neonatal growth parameters, according to a report released
in the current online issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.
This study is the first to show the benefits of the ban during
pregnancy in humans.
In 2000-2001, the federal government phased out the household use
of chlorpyrifos and diazinon. In the current study, Dr. Robin M.
Whyatt, from Columbia University in New York, and colleagues
assessed the effect of this ban on the outcomes of 314 infants born
in New York City. The infants were divided into groups based on
whether their birth occurred before or after January 1, 2001.
Consistent with their own previous report, the authors found that
both birth weight and length decreased as cord plasma levels of
chlorpyrifos rose. A similar inverse relationship was observed for
diazinon. In contrast, propoxur, another insecticide, was only
weakly associated with decreased birth length (p = 0.05).
The average weight difference between infants in the highest and
lowest pesticide exposure groups was 186.3 grams, the investigators
Infants born after January 1, 2001 had substantially lower
pesticide exposure levels than those born before this date, the
researchers report. Moreover, the levels present in the former group
seemed to have no effect on growth.
"This human study confirms the developmental impact, shown
previously in animal studies, of these insecticides," Dr. Whyatt
said in a statement. "It also demonstrates the positive effect of
the federal ban, which has substantially reduced exposures and
benefited human health."
"The differences in fetal growth seen here are comparable to the
differences between babies whose mothers smoke during pregnancy,"
Dr. Whyatt noted. "The fact that the ban was associated with such an
immediate change in birth weight and length provides considerable
evidence of cause and effect."
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