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Study reveals concerning trend in urine samples of pregnant women: 'This is not benign exposure'

"Fetal DNA is being shaped by these exposures."

"Fetal DNA is being shaped by these exposures."

Photo Credit: iStock

A new study has found a troubling increase in the levels of toxic weed killers detected in the urine of pregnant women in Indiana, according to the Guardian.

The herbicide dicamba was found in 70% of expectant mothers tested between 2020 and 2022, a dramatic rise from just 28% in a previous study from 2010–2012.

What's happening?

The study, conducted by the Indiana University School of Medicine, not only found dicamba in more women, but also discovered that the concentrations increased over fourfold.

Additionally, 100% of the women tested had detectable levels of another common herbicide, 2,4-D, though the increase in concentration was less significant than dicamba.

These findings contribute to a growing body of evidence suggesting widespread human exposure to agricultural chemicals, particularly in the Midwest. The increased presence of these herbicides coincides with the introduction of genetically engineered crops designed to tolerate dicamba and 2,4-D spraying.

Why are these concentrations concerning?

While the full health implications are not yet understood, experts express concern about the potential impact on pregnant women and developing fetuses.

Studies have linked dicamba to increased cancer risk, while animal research suggests 2,4-D exposure during pregnancy may affect fetal growth and behavior.

"Fetal DNA is being shaped by these exposures," warned Dr. Paul Winchester, a pediatrics clinical professor at Indiana University. "What we're seeing in other chemicals that have had longer pathways of study is that this is not benign exposure."

For expectant mothers, safeguarding their babies' health is a top priority, and these findings underscore the importance of minimizing exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

What can I do to protect my baby?

Although the EPA is still allowing the use of recently banned dicamba herbicides for this growing season, there are proactive steps pregnant women can take to reduce their exposure:

Choose organic produce when possible, especially for items prone to high pesticide residues like strawberries, spinach, and kale.
• Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables before consuming.
• Remove shoes before entering your home to minimize tracking in outdoor herbicides.
• Avoid spending time near agricultural fields that may have been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.

Together, let's take small but meaningful steps toward a safer, healthier world for the next generation.

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