Time to pregnancy and exposure to pesticides in Danish farmers

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Abstract

Objectives

Circumstantial evidence suggests that organic farmers may have higher sperm count than other men, but comprehensive epidemiological studies of male fecundity among farmers have never been carried out. A substantial increase of sperm count is expected to translate into a shorter time to pregnancy-the number of menstrual cycles or months it takes a couple to get pregnant from discontinuation of birth control. Toxicological effects on spermatogenesis in humans and animals have been described after exposure to several pesticides. The aim of this study was to examine time to pregnancy among farmers who used pesticides (traditional farmers) and farmers who did not (organic farmers).

Methods

A total of 904 (84%) men, selected from the Danish Ministry of Agriculture lists of traditional and organic farmers, participated in telephone interviews. Information was collected on time to pregnancy for the youngest child, exposure to pesticides, and potential confounders.

Results

With the discrete analogue of the Cox regression model (including potential confounders: male and female smoking, female age, parity, and contraceptive method), the fecundability ratio between traditional farmers who used pesticides and organic farmers was 1.03 (95% CI) 0.75 to 1.40). In the group of farmers who sprayed with pesticides, none of the characteristics related to the use of pesticides could account for the variation in time to pregnancy.

Conclusions

No overall effect of pesticides on male fecundability was found in this retrospective study among Danish farmers. Also, we found no evidence of higher male fecundability in organic farmers.

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