Objective: To examine the association between pesticide use during pregnancy and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) among wives of licensed pesticide applicators.
Research design and methods: Using data from the Agricultural Health Study (AHS), we estimated the association between self-reported pesticide-related activities during the first trimester of the most recent pregnancy and GDM among 11,273 women whose pregnancy occurred within 25 years of enrollment.
Results: A total of 506 (4.5%) women reported having had GDM. Women who reported agricultural pesticide exposure (mixing or applying pesticides to crops or repairing pesticide application equipment) during pregnancy were more likely to report GDM (odds ratio [OR] 2.2 [95% CI 1.5-3.3]). We saw no association between residential pesticide exposure (applying pesticides in the home and garden during pregnancy) and GDM (1.0 [0.8-1.3]). Among women who reported agricultural exposure during pregnancy, risk of GDM was associated with ever-use of four herbicides (2,4,5-T; 2,4,5-TP; atrazine; or butylate) and three insecticides (diazinon, phorate, or carbofuran).
Conclusions: These findings suggest that activities involving exposure to agricultural pesticides during the first trimester of pregnancy may increase the risk of GDM.