New research into the world’s most widely-used pesticide raises concerns for fetal health, according to researchers from the Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN). Glyphosate, which is used to kill broadleaf plants and grasses, is found in more than 750 products including Monsanto’s Roundup. The study discovered a correlation between glyphosate exposure during pregnancy and lower birth weights, as well as shorter pregnancies.
The research is part of the Herbicide Use and Birth Outcomes in the Midwest CEHN Healthy Kids Project. Sixty-nine pregnant women in the Midwest, where pesticide use is extensive, were followed and the amount of glyphosate in their urine tracked from 2015-2016. Women living in rural areas had higher glyphosate levels than women living in urban and suburban areas, and 91 percent of participants tested positive for the pesticide.
For high-exposure pregnancies studied, the average gestation period was nearly four days shorter. Low-exposure gestational-adjusted birth weights were in the 58th percentile while high-exposure dropped to the 43rd percentile. Low birth weight can lead to health problems, including respiratory distress as a baby and heart disease later in life.