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

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Stallones, Lorann;
  • Keefer, Sharon M.;
  • Merchant, Deborah L.;
  • Rickard, Russel S.


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 Colorado's Registry for Children with Special Needs for the years 1989–1991. 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 is needed.

Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
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