pesticide exposure complicates becoming pregnant

Pesticides may make it more difficult to become pregnant

Gynecology and Obstetrics, Women's Health

A study just published by the Harvard School of Public Health showed that women who eat fruits and vegetables with higher pesticide content may have a harder time becoming pregnant.

The women were all part of the Environment and Reproductive Health study, which was designed to determine the lifestyle and dietary factors that can influence reproductive success. In this part of the study, 325 women living in the Boston area were recruited. All of these women were undergoing assisted reproductive techniques, such as in-vitro fertilization.

The women filled out detailed questionnaires regarding their diets, including how frequently they ate different fruits and vegetables. The results showed that the women who ate 2 or more servings per day of “high pesticide residue” fruits and vegetables were 18% less likely to become pregnant, and 26% less likely to deliver a baby, than women who ate fewer than 1 serving per day (on average) of “high pesticide residue” fruits and vegetables.

High pesticide residue fruits and vegetables

Certain vegetables and fruits are known to have higher residues of pesticides than others. The common ones include:


Green Peppers







Cherry Tomatoes


Animal studies

This study from Harvard is the first to study the effects of pesticides on chances of success for women hoping to become pregnant, but it confirms results from animal studies. Rodents who were exposed to more pesticides in their diets had a higher risk of miscarriage and delivered fewer live pups.

What to do

While true for all of us, it may be especially important for women who are trying to become pregnant to avoid fruits and vegetables with the higher pesticide residues. The best option is to buy the organic variety of these foods, but these may not be available. In that case, there are techniques of washing fruits and vegetables that will substantially lower the pesticide content. Consult our earlier post for more details.

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Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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