Case-cohort analysis of agricultural pesticide applications near maternal residence and selected causes of fetal death

Erin M. Bell, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, James J. Beaumont

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55 Scopus citations


The potential association between fetal death and residential proximity to agricultural pesticide applications was examined in 10 California counties for 1984. A case-cohort analysis utilized 319 cases of selected causes of fetal death other than congenital anomalies and 611 noncases. A statewide database of all applications of restricted pesticides was linked to maternal address; residential proximity within 1 mile (1.6 km) provided a surrogate for daily exposure. Pesticides were grouped by chemical class and mechanism of acetylcholinesterase inhibition. Multivariate proportional hazards models using time-dependent exposure variables were fit for each pesticide grouping. Overall, pesticides showed no strong association with fetal death. Slightly elevated risks were observed for women who resided near applications of halogenated hydrocarbons, carbamates, estrogenic pesticides, and carbamate acetylcholinesterase inhibitors during the second trimester, with hazard ratios of 1.3 (95% confidence interval (Cl): 1.0, 1.8), 1.3 (95% Cl: 1.0, 1.8), 1.4 (95% Cl: 0.8, 2.5), and 1.3 (95% Cl: 1.0, 1.8), respectively. In a month-by-month analysis, elevated risks were observed when exposure occurred during gestational months 3 and 4 for carbamates and carbamate inhibitors and during months 4 and 5 for halogenated hydrocarbons. Since previous studies have relied on personal recall of exposure, major strengths of this study were the objective source for environmental pesticide exposure assessment and the use of data on the timing of exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)702-710
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Environmental exposure
  • Fetal death
  • Pesticides
  • Pregnancy outcome
  • Survival analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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