Pesticide exposure and child growth in low- and middle-income countries: a systematic review

Lilia Bliznashka, Aditi Roy, Lindsay Jaacks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background: In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), pesticides are widely used in agricultural and residential settings. Little is known about how pesticides affect child growth.
Objectives: To systematically review and synthesise the evidence on the associations between pesticide exposure and adverse birth outcomes and/or impaired postnatal growth in children up to 5 years of age in LMICs.
Methods: We searched 10 databases from inception through November 2021. We included cohort and cross-sectional studies investigating associations between self-reported or measured prenatal or postnatal pesticide exposure and child growth (postnatal child linear/ponderal growth, and/or birth outcomes). Two researchers screened studies, extracted data, and assessed certainty using GRADE. The protocol was preregistered with PROSPERO (CRD42021292919).
Results: Of 939 records retrieved, 31 studies met inclusion criteria (11 cohort, 20 cross-sectional). All studies assessed prenatal exposure. Twenty-four studies reported on birth weight. Four found positive associations with organochlorines (0.01 to 0.25 standardised mean difference (SMD)) and two found negative associations (-0.009 SMD to -55 g). Negative associations with organophosphates (-170 g, n=1) and pyrethroids (-97 to -233 g, n=2) were also documented. Two (out of 15) studies reporting on birth length found positive associations with organochlorines (0.21 to 0.25 SMD) and one found negative associations (-0.25 to -0.32 SMD). Organophosphate exposure was negatively associated with birth length (-0.37 cm, n=1). Organophosphate exposure was also associated with higher risk/prevalence of low birth weight (2 out of nine studies) and preterm birth (2 out of six studies). Certainty of the evidence was “very low” for all outcomes.
Conclusion: The limited literature from LMICs shows inconclusive associations between prenatal pesticide exposure, child growth, and birth outcomes. Studies with accurate quantitative data on exposure to commonly used pesticides in LMICs using consistent methodologies in comparable populations are needed to better understand how pesticides influence child growth
Original languageEnglish
Article number114230
JournalEnvironmental Research
Early online date7 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Organophosphates
  • Organochlorines
  • Pyrethroids
  • Birth weight
  • Prenatal exposure
  • Low birth weight


Dive into the research topics of 'Pesticide exposure and child growth in low- and middle-income countries: a systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this