(HealthDay News) – Maternal exposure to a common herbicide, atrazine, is associated with a nearly two-fold higher risk of having offspring with a rare birth defect of the nasal cavity, according to a study published online Sept 28 in The Journal of Pediatrics.

A.J. Agopian, PhD, from the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston, and colleagues examined the association between atrazine exposure during pregnancy and the risk of choanal atresia or stenosis in offspring. The authors used data from 280 cases of choanal atresia or stenosis and 3,720 randomly selected controls in Texas delivered during 1999–2008. Atrazine exposure was estimated based on county-level atrazine levels obtained from the United States Geological Survey.

The researchers found that high levels of maternal atrazine exposure were associated with a higher risk of offspring with choanal atresia or stenosis (adjusted odds ratio, 1.79), compared to offspring of mothers with low levels of estimated exposure. Increasing maternal atrazine exposure was associated with a significant linearly increasing risk of offspring with choanal atresia or stenosis.

“In summary, we report the first identified association between maternal atrazine exposure and risk for choanal atresia or stenosis,” Agopian and colleagues conclude. “Moreover, our findings, in conjunction with previous studies, suggest an important role of maternal endocrine disruption in risk for choanal atresia or stenosis.”

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