Pesticides - Reproductive and Developmental Impacts

Tools to help you talk to your patients about reproductive and developmental impacts from pesticides.

image of integrated pest brochure

Patient Handout and Education

Provider Resources

Evidence-based Messaging

Reprinted from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol 207 (6), Sheela Sathyanarayana, MD MPH et al., Environmental exposures: how to counsel preconception and prenatal patients in the clinical setting, pages: 463-470, 2012 with permission from Elsevier.


Key Points

  • Pesticide exposure can come from eating produce and from using pesticides in your home or on your pets.
  • Exposure to pesticides in pregnancy has been shown to increase the risk of intrauterine growth retardation, congenital anomalies, leukemia, and poor performance on neurodevelopmental testing.
Exposure Reduction
  • Avoid the application of pesticides indoors and outdoors, and stay out of areas that have been treated recently.
  • Do not use chemical tick and flea collars or dips.
  • If you choose to eliminate pests, consider the following options:
    • Use only licensed pesticide applicators.
    • Use baits and traps instead of sprays, dusts, and bombs.
  • Integrated pest management techniques include the following options:
    • Seal cracks and holes in the outside of the building.
    • Practice good sanitation; remove food, crumbs, and standing water; make sure garbage cans have tightfitting lids.
    • Hire a company that specializes in integrated pest management.
  • Consider buying organic produce when possible; focus on the "Dirty Dozen," which is a list of the 12 most contaminated products that is published by the Environmental Working Group that is available at
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Remove shoes at the door.
  • Reproductive health providers who suspect pesticide toxicity in their patients should contact a toxicologist at their local poison control center ( or an occupational and environmental medicine physician/pediatric environmental health specialist ( for advice on testing and treatment.
  • Other useful resources:

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