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An Ecologic Analysis of Congenital Anomalies and Agricultural Chemicals in Colorado, 1989-1991

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health. 2(4): 197-206. (doi: 10.13031/2013.19449) @1996
Authors:   D. L. Merchant, Lorann Stallones, S. M. Keefer, R. S. Rickard
Keywords:   Birth defects, Pesticides, Farming activities

Objectives The purpose of this article is to describe the distribution of congenital anomalies in relation to pesticide application, crop type, and farming methods in Colorado.

Methods Birth defects data, assigned to the county of residence of the mother, were obtained from Colorados Registry for Children with Special Needs for the years 19891991. Counties were grouped by crop reporting districts; these crop reporting districts were classified as high, medium or low based on total acres of each agricultural activity as a ratio of the total acres in the district. Rates were calculated for high, medium, and low districts for 10 different farming practices.

Results Rate ratios for Down syndrome and other chromosomal anomalies were elevated in areas high in herbicide application (3.02, 2.04), irrigated pastureland (2.83, 2.59), and fungicide application (2.39, 2.02). Rate ratios for patent ductus arteriosus were elevated in areas with irrigated pastureland (1.26) and irrigated cropland (1.22).

Conclusions Districts in Colorado high in application of herbicides and fungicides, and areas using irrigation methods have elevated rates of certain birth defects, including chromosomal defects and heart anomalies. A more detailed evaluation of these relationships are needed.

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