Prenatal pesticide exposure associated with glycated haemoglobin and markers of metabolic dysfunction in adolescents

Environ Res. 2018 Oct;166:71-77. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2018.05.032. Epub 2018 Jun 4.


Background: Pesticide exposure has been associated with increased risk of diabetes mellitus in adults, but potential effects of prenatal exposure on glucose regulation have not been investigated. The aim of this study was to investigate if maternal occupational pesticide exposure in pregnancy was associated with glycated haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) in adolescents and whether an association was modified by sex and paraoxonase-1 (PON1) Q192R polymorphism.

Methods: A prospective cohort study of children whose mothers were either occupationally exposed or unexposed to pesticides in early pregnancy. At age 10-to-16 years, the children (n = 168) underwent clinical examinations including pubertal stage assessment (accepted by 141 children) and blood sampling. PON1 Q192R genotype was available for 139 children and 103 mothers. The main outcome measure was HbA1c but other relevant biomarkers were also included.

Results: Prenatal pesticide exposure was associated with a 5.0% (95% confidence interval: 1.8; 8.2) higher HbA1c compared to unexposed children after adjustment for confounders. After stratification, the association remained significant for girls (6.2% (1.6; 11.1)) and if the child or the mother had the PON1 192R-allele (6.1% (1.6; 10.8) and 7.1% (2.0; 12.6), respectively). Besides, an exposure-related increase was seen for the leptin-to-adiponectin ratio, for plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1 in girls, and for interleukin-6 in children whose mothers had the R-allele.

Conclusion: Prenatal pesticide exposure was associated with higher HbA1c and changes in related biomarkers in adolescents. Our results suggest an adverse effect on glucose homeostasis and support previous findings from this cohort of an exposure-associated metabolic risk profile with higher susceptibility related to female sex and the PON1 192R-allele.

Keywords: HbA1c; Metabolic biomarkers; Paraoxonase-1; Pesticides; Prenatal exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aryldialkylphosphatase / genetics*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Child
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pesticides / toxicity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / blood*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Pesticides
  • Aryldialkylphosphatase
  • PON1 protein, human