Anti-Müllerian hormone and lifestyle, reproductive, and environmental factors among women in rural South Africa

Epidemiology. 2015 May;26(3):429-35. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000000265.


Background: Few data exist regarding anti-Müllerian hormone, a marker of ovarian reserve, in relation to environmental factors with potential ovarian toxicity.

Methods: This analysis included 420 women from Limpopo, South Africa studied in 2010-2011. Women were administered comprehensive questionnaires, and plasma concentrations of anti-Müllerian hormone and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane were determined. We used separate multivariable models to examine the associations between natural log-transformed anti-Müllerian hormone concentration (ng/ml) and each of the lifestyle, reproductive, and environmental factors of interest, adjusted for age, body mass index, education, and parity.

Results: The median age of women was 24 years (interquartile range [IQR] = 22 to 26); the median anti-Müllerian hormone concentration was 3.1 ng/ml (IQR = 2.0 to 6.0). Women who reported indoor residual spraying in homes with painted walls (indicative of exposure to pyrethroids) had 25% lower (95% confidence interval [CI] = -39%, -8%) anti-Müllerian hormone concentrations compared with women who reported no spraying. Little evidence of decreased anti-Müllerian hormone concentrations was observed among women with the highest dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane levels. Compared with women who used an electric stove, no association was observed among women who cooked indoors over open wood fires. The findings also suggested lower anti-Müllerian hormone concentrations among women who drank coffee (-19% [95% CI = -31%, -5%]) or alcohol (-21% [95% CI = -36%, -3%]).

Conclusions: These are among the first data regarding anti-Müllerian hormone concentrations relative to pesticides and indoor air pollution. Our results are suggestive of decreased ovarian reserve associated with exposure to pyrethroid pesticides, which is consistent with laboratory animal data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Mullerian Hormone / blood*
  • DDT / adverse effects
  • DDT / blood*
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene / adverse effects
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene / blood
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Gravidity / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / adverse effects
  • Insecticides / blood*
  • Life Style*
  • Parity / drug effects
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproductive Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Insecticides
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene
  • Anti-Mullerian Hormone
  • DDT