Urinary Biomarkers of Prenatal Atrazine Exposure and Adverse Birth Outcomes in the PELAGIE Birth Cohort

Cecile Chevrier, Gwendolina Limon, Christine Monfort, Florence
Rouget, Ronan Garlantzec, Claire Petit, Ga´l Durand, Sylvaine Cordier


Background: Despite evidence of atrazine toxicity on developing organisms from experimental studies, only few studies, and fewer epidemiological investigations, have examined the potential effects of prenatal exposure.

Objectives: We sought to assess the association between adverse birth outcomes and urinary biomarkers of prenatal atrazine exposure, while taking into account exposures to other herbicides used on corn crops (simazine, alachlor, metolachlor, and acetochlor).

Methods: This study used a case-cohort design nested in a prospective birth cohort conducted in the Brittany region from 2002 through 2006. It collected maternal urine samples to examine pesticide exposure biomarkers before the 19th week of gestation.

Results: Quantifiable levels of atrazine or atrazine mercapturate were found in urine samples from 5.5% of 579 pregnant women, and dealkylated and hydroxylated triazine metabolites were identified in 20% and 40% of samples, respectively. The presence versus absence of quantifiable levels of atrazine or a specific atrazine metabolite was associated with fetal growth restriction (OR=1.5; 95% CI: 1.0-2.2) and small head circumference for sex and gestational age (OR=1.7; 95% CI: 1.0-2.7). Associations with major congenital anomalies were not evident with atrazine or its specific metabolites. Head circumference was inversely associated with the presence of quantifiable urinary metolachlor.

Conclusions: This study is the first to assess associations of birth outcomes with multiple urinary biomarkers of exposure to triazine and chloroacetanilide herbicides. Evidence of associations with adverse birth outcomes raises particular concerns for countries where atrazine is still in use.

Citation: Chevrier C, Limon G, Monfort C, Rouget F,
Garlantzec R, Petit C, et al. 2011. Urinary Biomarkers of Prenatal Atrazine
Exposure and Adverse Birth Outcomes in the PELAGIE Birth Cohort. Environ Health
Perspect :-. doi:10.1289/ehp.1002775

Online: 02 March 2011