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Study shows benefits to newborns from federal ban on insecticides

A federal ban on two insecticides has resulted in a significant reduction in their impact on newborns' birth weight and length, according to a new study funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and other private foundations.

The results of the study - the first one to demonstrate the benefits of the ban during pregnancy in human subjects - will be published in Environmental Health Perspectives, the monthly peer-reviewed journal of the NIEHS. It is now available online at http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov.

The study, released by the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health, part of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, measured the impact on fetal growth of two insecticides - chlorpyrifos and diazinon - whose use in households was banned by the federal government starting in 2000. The insecticides had been among the most commonly-used agents for residential pest control.

In the study, researchers measured the levels of the two insecticides in blood drawn from the umbilical cords after delivery, both before and after the ban, and correlated those levels with the babies' birth weight and length. All blood samples were frozen and stored at -70 degrees Centigrade in order to ensure the stability of the pesticides. Subsequent analyses were performed on frozen samples at three different times -- spring 2001, summer 2002 and fall 2002.

They found that prior to January 2001, newborns with combined insecticide exposures in the highest 26th percentile had birth weights averaging almost 200 grams (almost half a pound) less than infants with no detectable pesticide levels. The researchers also noted a highly significant inverse association between the combined exposures and newborn birth length. However, when they looked at the relationship between insecti
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Contact: John Peterson
peterso4@niehs.nih.gov
919-541-7860
NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
24-Mar-2004


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