Association of prenatal exposure to organochlorine pesticides and birth size

Sci Total Environ. 2019 Mar 1:654:678-683. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.10.384. Epub 2018 Oct 30.


There has been substantial evidence showing the adverse effects of organochlorine pesticide (OCP) exposure on human, but studies focused on the prenatal exposure effects at low OCP levels on infant birth size were scarce and controversial. In this study, cord serum samples were collected at the delivery from 1028 pairs of mothers and newborns in Wuhan, China and investigated the associations of prenatal exposure to OCPs and birth size. The prenatal exposure of hexachlorocyclohexane isomers (HCHs), p,p'-dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (p,p'-DDT) and its metabolites were analyzed. The associations between birth size and prenatal OCP exposure were examined by multiple linear regressions. A sex-specific relationship between the OCP exposure and birth size was observed. β-HCH was negatively associated with birth weight and ponderal index for boys [adjusted β = -28.61; 95% confidence interval (CI): -54.84, -4.37 and adjusted β = -0.17; 95% CI: -0.32, -0.01, respectively], whilst no significant associations with prenatal exposure of OCPs were found among girls. The inverse association of prenatal exposure to low levels of β-HCH was shown sex-specific difference, which was only observed significantly in boys. The findings strengthened the evidence that the fetal development was influenced by prenatal exposure to certain OCPs and the effects might be different in the newborn sex.

Keywords: Birth size; Cord serum; Organochlorines pesticides.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Birth Weight / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / adverse effects*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Pesticides / adverse effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / etiology
  • Young Adult


  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Pesticides