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Glyphosate Pregnancy Study: Herbicide Detected in Majority of Subjects

Glyphosate Pregnancy Study

Nearly all of the pregnant women who participated in a recent study in Indiana had detectable levels of glyphosate in their system. The study also found that higher glyphosate levels were “significantly correlated” with shortened gestational lengths.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer, one of the world’s most widely used herbicides. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) conducted a review on the published literature for glyphosate. IARC concluded that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen and the cancer most associated with exposure to glyphosate is non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL).

In response to the IARC report on glyphosate, thousands of individuals from across the United States have filed lawsuits against Monsanto, alleging their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was caused by exposure to Roundup.

If you were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after being exposed to glyphosate, contact the Roundup cancer attorneys at Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman today for a free case evaluation.

Over 90% of Women in Glyphosate Pregnancy Study Showed Detectable Levels of the Herbicide in Urine

Published in the March 9 edition of the journal Environmental Health, the glyphosate pregnancy study analyzed the urine of 71 women with singleton pregnancies living in Central Indiana while they received prenatal care. The mean average age of the participants was 29 and the majority were Caucasian.

In order to measure glyphosate exposure, the study used liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. The detectable limit of glyphosate exposure for the study was 0.1 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter).

The participants were asked to fill out questionnaires to determine information relating to their food and water consumption, stress and residence. Maternal risk factors and neonatal outcomes were taken from medical records, and researchers utilized correlation analyses to assess relationships of glyphosate levels in urine with fetal growth indicators and gestational length.

In addition to the urine analysis, researchers also analyzed residential drinking water to determine if the participants’ drinking water was a source of glyphosate exposure.

According to the glyphosate pregnancy study, more than 90 percent of the women had detectable levels of chemical in their urine.

Other Key Findings:

  • The mean glyphosate exposure level was 3.4 ng/mL.
  • The range exposure level was .5 – 7.2 ng/mL.
  • Higher glyphosate exposure levels were found in women living in rural areas and among those who drank more than 24 ounces of caffeinated beverages.
  • None of the drinking water showed detectable levels of glyphosate.
  • Researchers did not observe any correlations with fetal growth indicators such as birth weight percentile and head circumference.
  • Higher glyphosate urine levels were significantly correlated with shortened gestational lengths.

According to the study authors, this is the first glyphosate pregnancy study in the U.S. using urine specimens as a direct measure of exposure. While the study is certain to capture attention, the authors do acknowledge a couple of shortcomings. First, the cohort in the study was small at only 71 participants. Secondly, the researchers noted that they did not have significant racial/ethnic diversity.

“Further investigations in a more geographically and racially diverse cohort would be necessary before these findings could be generalized,” the authors noted in the conclusion.

Monsanto Roundup Increasingly Detected in Humans

Since 1974 in the U.S., farmers, farm workers, government employees, gardeners, and other applicators have sprayed over 1.6 billion kilograms of glyphosate. That amounts to roughly 19 percent of estimated global use of glyphosate (8.6 billion kilograms). Two-thirds of the total volume of glyphosate applied in the U.S. between 1974 to 2014 has been sprayed in the last 10 years.

Globally, glyphosate use has risen almost 15-fold since Monsanto introduced “Roundup Ready,” genetically-modified, glyphosate-tolerant crops in 1996. In 2014, farmers sprayed enough glyphosate to apply roughly 1.0 kg/ha (0.8 pound/acre) on every hectare of cultivated cropland in the U.S. and nearly 0.53 kg/ha (0.47 pounds/acre) on all cropland worldwide.

Glyphosate Use 2015 Map

Photo from U.S. Geological Survey’s Pesticide National Synthesis Project

As evidenced from the map above, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota are among the top glyphosate-using states in the U.S.

The explosion in glyphosate use in the U.S. and globally prompted researchers to study pervasiveness of the chemical in people’s bodies. Much like the glyphosate pregnancy study on expecting mothers in Indiana, other studies have reached similar conclusions on detectable glyphosate levels in humans.

A study that appeared in the Oct 24/31, 2017 edition of JAMA analyzed urine samples of individuals over the age of 50 in Southern California from 1993-1996 to 2014-2016. According to the study authors, individuals who tested positive for glyphosate in their urine shot up by 500 percent from the time the study began until it concluded. The study also noted that the levels of glyphosate over the period increased by 1208 percent.

How Are People Exposed to Glyphosate?

While the people most commonly exposed to glyphosate include farmers, farm workers, government workers, gardeners, and landscapers, anyone can be exposed to glyphosate if it is sprayed in parks, fields, roadside vegetation or yards.

Exposure can happen in a number of different ways, including:

  • Contact with skin (dermal)
  • Contact with eyes
  • Inhalation while spraying
  • Swallowing (if residue remains on hands or parts of the body)

The Monsanto Papers, which contain internal Monsanto studies, communications and other memoranda, contain useful information on how the human body absorbs glyphosate.

In fact, certain documents show that Monsanto has long known that surfactants in the Roundup formulated product allow Roundup to be absorbed into the human body at a higher rate than glyphosate by itself. Internal Monsanto communications include company scientists admitted that further study of the absorption of Roundup should be ceased “because a further study was not likely to help us meet the project objective…[w]e are left behind with too many questions after all this.



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