Exposure to DDT and Diabetic Nephropathy Among Mexican Americans in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

Environ Pollut. 2017 Mar;222:132-137. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2016.12.069. Epub 2017 Jan 5.


Concentrations of the pesticide DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) and its metabolite DDE (dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene), in the blood of Mexican Americans, were evaluated to determine their relationships with diabetes and diabetic nephropathy. The data were derived from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999-2004 (unweighted N = 1,411, population estimate = 13,760,609). The sample included teens, 12-19 years old, which accounted for 19.8% of the data. The time of the study overlapped the banning of DDT in Mexico in the year 2000, and those participants born in Mexico were exposed to DDT before they immigrated to the US. We sought to better understand the relationship of DDT with diabetes in a race/ethnicity group prone to develop diabetes and exposed to DDT. In this study, nephropathy was defined as urinary albumin to creatinine ratio >30 mg/g, representing microalbuminuria and macroalbuminuria, and total diabetes was defined as diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes (glycohemoglobin, A1c ≥ 6.5%). The proportion with the isomer p,p'-DDT >0.086 ng/g (above the maximum limit of detection) was 13.3% for Mexican Americans born in the US, and 36.9% for those born in Mexico. Levels of p,p'-DDT >0.086 ng/g were associated with total diabetes with nephropathy (odds ratio = 4.42, 95% CI 2.23-8.76), and with total diabetes without nephropathy (odds ratio = 2.02, 95% CI 1.19-3.44). The third quartile of p,p'-DDE (2.99-7.67 ng/g) and the fourth quartile of p,p'-DDE (≥7.68 ng/g) were associated with diabetic nephropathy and had odds ratios of 5.32 (95% CI 1.05-26.87) and 14.95 (95% CI 2.96-75.48) compared to less than the median, respectively, whereas p,p'-DDE was not associated with total diabetes without nephropathy. The findings of this study differ from those of a prior investigation of the general adult US population in that there were more associations found with the Mexican Americans sample.

Keywords: DDE (dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene); DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane); Diabetes; Kidney disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • DDT / adverse effects*
  • DDT / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / chemically induced
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / blood
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / chemically induced*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexican Americans*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pesticides / adverse effects*
  • Pesticides / blood
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Pesticides
  • DDT