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 September 26, 2003
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DDT Exposure and Pregnancy
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(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Could a mother's exposure to the now-banned pesticide DDT be impacting her daughter's ability to get pregnant?

Yes, say researchers publishing in this week's issue of The Lancet. Surprisingly, the problem may be mitigated if the DDT converts to a byproduct known as DDE.

DDT was banned in the United States more than 30 years ago after studies linked the chemical to toxic effects on the environment and health problems in people. It is still used in some countries, particularly those with high rates of malaria because of the pesticide's effectiveness against mosquitoes.

Since DDT is known as a weak estrogen contaminant, investigators decided to study the pregnancy rate in women born between 1960 and 1963 to mothers who were exposed to DDT. Their aim was to determine if the exposure had any long-term impact on the daughters. The investigation measured DDT concentrations in blood samples taken from the women's mothers at the time of their birth, along with concentrations of the DDT byproduct DDE.

All the women were questioned about their attempts to get pregnant, birth control use, and other factors impacting pregnancy. Those whose mothers had higher levels of DDT were less likely to become pregnant during times when pregnancy was not being actively avoided. The chance of pregnancy declined by about a third for every 10 micrograms of DDT per liter of blood in their mothers' blood samples. However, the chance of pregnancy during these times actually increased by about a sixth for every 10 micrograms of DDE per liter in their mothers' blood.

The researchers believe these results may foster new understanding about the role of DDT in fertility.

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.

SOURCE: The Lancet, 2003;361:2205-2206

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