In utero exposure to organochlorine pesticide residues and their potential impact on birth outcomes and fetal gender

Abstract

Being the largest agriculture country in the Arab world, Egypt was one of the major consumer of organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) in this area, continued to have a heavy burden of OCPs in the environment. There is growing concern that OCPs could pass from the maternal circulation through the placenta to the fetal circulation and pose several health risks to their fetuses. The current study was intended to identify OCPs residue exposure in healthy pregnant women and to justify the potential impacts of these residues on their fetuses. In this study, the prevalence of 18 OCPs was estimated in 81 maternal and cord blood samples, using Agilent 7890, gas chromatograph equipped with micro-electron capture detector (GC-μECD). Our data signposted that the heptachlor epoxide has the highest detection rate among all residues in both maternal (32%) and cord blood serum (27.16%). DDTs were still quantifiable, but with the lowest quantifiable percentage. More than 85% of mothers' serum with detectable residues transfer OCPs residue to their fetuses in a statistically significant manner (x = 42.9, p value < 0.001). The present findings showed no significant growth retardation, or preterm delivery induced by in utero exposure to the most abundant residues. There is growing evidence that exposure to OCPs residue has profound impact on sex ratio. Methoxychlor, in this study be deemed as testosterone triggers which yields high boys ratio (x = 4.37, p < 0.05). In conclusion, Egypt continued to have a heavy burden of OCPs residues, and fetuses and infants are especially the most vulnerable groups to their adverse health effects. Exposure to OCPs may disrupt the maternal hormones, which regulate the offspring gender, but these results need to be validated in larger sample sizes.

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Funding

The authors thank the National Research Centre (NRC), Giza, Egypt for supporting this study within the project “Immunological Profile in Cord Blood and Growth Assessment of the Newborn about Maternal Exposure to Environmental Contaminant” Project No. 11010140.

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Correspondence to Abdel-Tawab H. Mossa.

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Abdel Hamid, E.R., Sharaf, N.E., Ahmed, H.H. et al. In utero exposure to organochlorine pesticide residues and their potential impact on birth outcomes and fetal gender. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-09411-x

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Keywords

  • In utero exposure
  • Organochlorine pesticide residues
  • Birth outcomes
  • Methoxychlor
  • Gender of fetuses