Organophosphate pesticide exposure: Demographic and dietary predictors in an urban pregnancy cohort

Environ Pollut. 2021 Aug 15:283:116920. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2021.116920. Epub 2021 Mar 11.


Pregnant women are widely exposed to organophosphate (OP) pesticides, which are potentially neurotoxicant for the developing fetus. We aimed to identify principal demographic and dietary predictors of OP pesticide exposure among 450 pregnant women participating in the New York University Children's Health and Environment Study (enrolled 2016-19). Urinary concentrations of six dialkyl phosphate (DAP) metabolites (3 dimethyl (DM) metabolites and 3 diethyl (DE) metabolites) of OP pesticides were determined at three time points across pregnancy. At mid-gestation, the Diet History Questionnaire II was used to assess women's dietary intake over the past year. Demographic characteristics were obtained using questionnaires and/or electronic health records. We used linear mixed models to evaluate the associations of demographic and food groups with DAP metabolite levels, and partial-linear single-index (PLSI) models to analyze the contribution proportions of food groups to DAP metabolite concentrations and the dose-response relationships between them. We observed that pregnant women in NYC had lower levels of OP pesticide metabolites than pregnant populations in Europe, Asia, and other regions in the U.S. Having lower pre-pregnancy body mass index and being Asian, employed, and single were associated with higher DAP metabolite concentrations. Fruit and grain intakes were associated with higher ∑DM, ∑DE, and ∑DAP levels. ∑DE concentrations increased 9.0% (95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.2%, 17.4%) per two-fold increase in dairy consumption, whereas ∑DE concentrations decreased 1.8% (95%CI = -3.1%, -0.4%) per two-fold increase in seafood consumption. The PLSI model indicated that among the food mixture, fruit and grains were the main food groups contributed to higher levels of ∑DAP, while meat contributed to lower levels of ∑DAP. The contribution proportions of fruit, grains, and meat were 18.7%, 17.9%, and 39.3%, respectively. Our results suggest that fruit, grains, and meat are major dietary components associated with OP pesticide exposure in urban pregnant women.

Keywords: Birth cohort; Diet; Organophosphate pesticides; Pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Asia
  • Child
  • Demography
  • Diet
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • New York
  • Organophosphates
  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Pesticides*
  • Pregnancy


  • Organophosphates
  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Pesticides