Abstract

Potential health effects of agricultural pesticide use include reproductive outcomes. For the Ontario Farm Family Health Study, the authors sampled Ontario farms from the 1986 Canadian Census of Agriculture, identified farm couples, and obtained questionnaire data concerning farm activities, reproductive health experience, and chemical applications. Male farm activities in the period from 3 months before conception through the month of conception were evaluated in relation to miscarriage, preterm delivery, and small-for-gestational-age births. Among the 1,898 couples with complete data (64% response), 3,984 eligible pregnancies were identified. Miscarriage was not associated with chemical activities overall but was increased in combination with reported use of thiocarbamates, carbaryl, and unclassified pesticides on the farm. Preterm delivery was also not strongly associated with farm chemical activities overall, except for mixing or applying yard herbicides (odds ratio = 2.1, 95% confidence interval 1.0–4.4). Combinations of activities with a variety of chemicals (atrazine, glyphosate, organophosphates, 4-[2,4-dichlorophenoxy] butyric acid, and insecticides) generated odds ratios of two or greater. No associations were found between farm chemicals and small-for-gestational-age births or altered sex ratio. Based on these data, despite limitations in exposure assessment, the authors encourage continued evaluation of male exposures, particularly in relation to miscarriage and preterm delivery. Am J Epidemiol 1997;146:1025–36.