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Association between Pesticide Profiles Used on Agricultural Fields near Maternal Residences during Pregnancy and IQ at Age 7 Years


We previously showed that potential prenatal exposure to agricultural pesticides was associated with adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes in children, yet the effects of joint exposure to multiple pesticides is poorly understood. In this paper, we investigate associations between the joint distribution of agricultural use patterns of multiple pesticides (denoted as "pesticide profiles") applied near maternal residences during pregnancy and Full-Scale Intelligence Quotient (FSIQ) at 7 years of age. Among a cohort of children residing in California's Salinas Valley, we used Pesticide Use Report (PUR) data to characterize potential exposure from use within 1 km of maternal residences during pregnancy for 15 potentially neurotoxic pesticides from five different chemical classes. We used Bayesian profile regression (BPR) to examine associations between clustered pesticide profiles and deficits in childhood FSIQ. BPR identified eight distinct clusters of prenatal pesticide profiles. Two of the pesticide profile clusters exhibited some of the highest cumulative pesticide use levels and were associated with deficits in adjusted FSIQ of -6.9 (95% credible interval: -11.3, -2.2) and -6.4 (95% credible interval: -13.1, 0.49), respectively, when compared with the pesticide profile cluster that showed the lowest level of pesticides use. Although maternal residence during pregnancy near high agricultural use of multiple neurotoxic pesticides was associated with FSIQ deficit, the magnitude of the associations showed potential for sub-additive effects. Epidemiologic analysis of pesticides and their potential health effects can benefit from a multi-pollutant approach to analysis.

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