Pesticides linked to genital malformations

SONS of farmers, gardeners and winegrowers were more likely than other males to be born with a genital malformation, research from the south of France shows.

The study took in around 1450 boys born in the Montpellier region over 16 months, among whom 39 (2.7%) had a genital malformation.

“We observed a significant relationship between newborn cryptorchidism, hypospadias or micropenis and parental occupational exposure to pesticides (OR = 4.41),” the authors said.

Organochlorine pesticides are among the environmental pollutants that have “oestrogenic and anti-androgenic activity” in the body.

Prenatal exposure may alter normal male sex differentiation and should be investigated in under-virilised newborn males, they said.

Hum Reprod 2011; online 25 August