Prenatal exposure to glyphosate impacts reproductive tract development for baby girls

Glyphosate is the most widely used chemical in history, and its prevalence around the globe has caused concern for environmental and human health risks. The body of science that connects glyphosate to adverse consequences on human health is growing. A recent study published in the journal Environmental Pollution links prenatal exposure to glyphosate in pregnant women to endocrine disruption in unborn girls, indicated by increased anogenital distance in infants. Anogenital distance is the distance between the anus and genitals, and is an indication of endocrine disruption that affects reproductive tract development. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, endocrine disruption can lead to “developmental malformations, interference with reproduction, increased cancer risk; and disturbances in the immune and nervous system function.”

This study follows up previous work conducted on rats that found exposure to glyphosate-based Roundup caused lengthened anogenital distance (AGD) in male and female offspring. Because the connection between exposure to glyphosate and endocrine disruption indicated by AGD had not yet been studied in humans, and because humans and rats share the same AGD function, the researchers conducted a pilot study with 94 mother infant pairs (45 women pregnant with girls, and 49 women pregnant with boys). They screened urine samples from pregnant women in their second trimester for glyphosate and its metabolite AMPA, and detected both in more than 90% of the urine samples. They then measured anogenital distance in the newborn babies from these women and found that the female babies from mothers with high exposure to glyphosate had longer anogenital distances, indicating endocrine disruption. This study links prenatal exposure of glyphosate to reproductive development of infants, which may indicate future complications from prenatal endocrine disruption, and that this relationship is likely sex-linked in humans to female babies.


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