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Residential sources of pesticide exposure during pregnancy and the risks of hypospadias and cryptorchidism: the French ELFE birth cohort
  1. Noriane Cognez1,
  2. Charline Warembourg1,2,
  3. Cécile Zaros3,
  4. Marie-Astrid Metten4,
  5. Ghislaine Bouvier5,
  6. Ronan Garlantézec4,
  7. Marie-Aline Charles6,
  8. Rémi Béranger4,
  9. Cécile Chevrier1
  1. 1 UnivRennes, Inserm, EHESP, Irset-UMR_S 1085, Rennes, France
  2. 2 ISGlobal, Barcelona, Spain
  3. 3 Ined, Inserm, EFS, ELFE Joint Unit, Rennes, France
  4. 4 UnivRennes, CHU Rennes, Inserm, EHESP, Irset-UMR_S 1085, Rennes, France
  5. 5 University of Bordeaux, Inserm UMR 1219 EPICENE Team, Bordeaux Population Health Research Center, Bordeaux, France
  6. 6 Ined, Inserm, EFS, ELFE Joint Unit, Villejuif, France
  1. Correspondence to Noriane Cognez, IRSET, Rennes 35042, France; noriane.cognez{at}


Objectives Prenatal occupational exposure to pesticides has been associated with male reproductive tract abnormalities. Little is known about the possible impact of non-occupational pesticide exposure on fetal and child development in the general population. Using data from a nationwide birth cohort, we aimed to assess the association between residential sources of prenatal pesticide exposure and the risks of hypospadias and cryptorchidism.

Methods Of the 9281 boys in ELFE (French Longitudinal Study of Children), the national French birth cohort, 53 were diagnosed with hypospadias and 137 with cryptorchidism. We assessed residential exposure sources from self-reported domestic use of eight types of pesticide products and French spatial land use data with acreage within a 1000 m radius around each family’s home for 21 crop types. We used logistic regression modelling, adjusted for possible confounders that included estimated dietary pesticide intake. Multiple imputations were used to handle missing data.

Results An increased risk of hypospadias was associated with domestic pesticide use against fleas and ticks (OR=2.28, 95% CI 1.09 to 4.75); no associations were found between cryptorchidism and any domestic pesticide use. Slightly increased risks of cryptorchidism were observed in association with all crop acreages near homes during pregnancy, especially for orchards, and no association was observed for hypospadias.

Conclusions Our results suggest a possible increased risk of hypospadias associated with prenatal use of some domestic pesticide products, likely to contain insecticides, and of cryptorchidism with nearby orchard acreage (crops repeatedly sprayed with pesticides). This work is limited by its modest number of cases.

  • residential exposures
  • pesticides
  • hypospadias
  • cryptorchidism
  • ELFE birth cohort

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  • Contributors NC performed the statistical analyses and drafted the manuscript. CW and RG verified the consistency of the data on male genital abnormalities and provided expertise for interpreting the statistical results. M-AM built the scores for pesticide product domestic use. GB provided expertise on sources of pesticide exposure through domestic uses. M-AC coordinated the ELFE cohort, and CZ supervised the data collection. RB and CC supervised the statistical analyses, interpretations and all drafts of the manuscript. CC designed the study. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding Action piloted by the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food, with financial support of the French National Agency for Water and Aquatic Environments, through appropriations from diffuse pollution taxes allocated to the plan Ecophyto. The EHESP School of Public Health provided a doctoral grant to the first author.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval All mothers provided written informed consent. The ELFE study received appropriate approvals from the French ethical committees: advisory committee for the treatment of information for health research (Comité Consultatif sur le Traitement des Informations pour la Recherche en Santé, no 10.623), the national data protection agency (Commission National Informatique et Libertés, no 910504) and the national statistics council (Conseil national de l'information statistique, visa 2011X716AU).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request.