Can Prenatal Exposure to Pesticides Cause Obesity

The result of a research study done by Spanish researchers in Barcelona indicates that prenatal exposure to a by-product of DDT pesticide may raise the body mass index (BMI) of a baby within 14 months of birth.. The details of their research are published in the October 2010 online edition of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP).

How Prenatal Exposure to Pesticides and Obesity are Linked
The chemical DDE is a by-product of DDT pesticide which acts as an endocrine disruptor. A substance is called so when it affects the production, functioning and elimination of hormones. These are the signaling molecules which either initiate or end vital chemical reactions of the body.

The research found that when mothers had relatively high levels of this chemical in their blood, it increased the chances of the babies growing rapidly in the first six months of their birth. A significant rise in BMI was seen within the first 14 months of life.

The data for this study was collected from 518 Spanish women in their first trimester of pregnancy. Babies born from mothers with 75 percent of exposure were likely to grow faster by two times. With 50 percent of the exposure in them, pregnant mothers raised the chances of high BMI in their babies within first 14 months by three.

Implications of the Research on Prenatal Exposure to Pesticides and Obesity:

More than 40 studies have related rapid weight gain after birth with obesity and its associated complications in later life. Foods like meats, dairy products, fish, fruits and vegetables are possible food sources which may expose pregnant women to pesticides. Unfortunately, these chemicals stay longer in the environment owing to their ability to resist degradation. Effectively avoiding such pesticides completely may prove to be increasingly difficult in the heavily commercialized food industry of today. The best way to find and eat the cleanest food possible is to base the diet on organic foods and products.
The present research study suggests that the endocrine disrupting properties of pesticide exposure change the regulation of appetite in the body and causes metabolic changes which work to promote obesity.


Environmental Health Perspectives: Birth Weight and Prenatal Exposure to Polychlorinated Biphenyls

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