22. Exposure to organophosphorus and organochlorine pesticides, perfluoroalkyl substances, and polychlorinated biphenyls in pregnancy and the association with impaired glucose tolerance and gestational diabetes mellitus: The MIREC Study (abstract)

Shapiro GD, Dodds L, Arbuckle TE, Ashley-Martin J, Ettinger AS, Fisher M, Taback S, Bouchard MF, Monnier P, Dallaire R, Morisset AS, Fraser WD. Environmental Research. 2016 Feb 4;147:71-81. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.01.040 


Studies report increases in rates of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) over recent decades. Environmental chemicals may increase the risk of diabetes through impacts on glucose metabolism, mitochondrial dysfunction, and endocrine-disrupting mechanisms including effects on pancreatic β-cell function and adiponectin release.


To determine the associations between pesticides, perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) measured in early pregnancy and impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and GDM in a Canadian birth cohort.


Women enrolled in the Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) Study were included if they had a singleton delivery and did not have pre-existing diabetes. Exposure variables included three organophosphorus (OP) pesticide metabolites detected in first-trimester urine samples, as well as three organochlorine (OC) pesticides, three PFASs, and four PCBs in first-trimester blood samples. Gestational IGT and GDM were assessed by chart review in accordance with published guidelines. Adjusted logistic regression models were used to calculate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the association between quartiles of environmental chemicals and both gestational IGT and GDM.


Of the 2001 women recruited into the MIREC cohort, 1274 met the inclusion criteria and had outcome and biomonitoring data available. Significantly lower odds of GDM were observed in the third and fourth quartiles of dimethylphosphate (DMP) and in the fourth quartile of dimethylthiophosphate (DMTP) in adjusted analyses (DMP Q3: OR=0.2, 95% CI=0.1–0.7; DMP Q4: OR=0.3, 95% CI=0.1–0.8; DMTP: OR=0.3, 95% CI=0.1–0.9). Significantly elevated odds of gestational IGT was observed in the second quartile of perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS) (OR=3.5, 95% CI=1.4–8.9). No evidence of associations with GDM or IGT during pregnancy was observed for PCBs or OC pesticides.


We did not find consistent evidence for any positive associations between the chemicals we examined and GDM or IGT during pregnancy. We observed statistical evidence of inverse relationships between urine concentrations of DMP and DMTP with GDM. We cannot rule out the influence of residual confounding due to unmeasured protective factors, such as nutritional benefits from fruit and vegetable consumption, also associated with pesticide exposure, on the observed inverse associations between maternal OP pesticide metabolites and GDM. These findings require further investigation.