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DDT and DDE exposure in mothers and time to pregnancy in daughters

Reproductive-tract anomalies after administration of the potent oestrogen, diethylstilboestrol, in pregnant women raised concerns about the reproductive effects of exposure to weakly oestrogenic environmental contaminants such as bis[4-chlorophenyl]-1,1,1-trichloroethane (p,p’-DDT) or its metabolites, such as bis[4-chlorophenyl]-1,1-dichloroethene (p,p’-DDE). We measured p,p’-DDT and p,p’-DDE in preserved maternal serum samples drawn 1-3 days after delivery between 1960 and 1963. We recorded time to pregnancy in 289 eldest daughters 28-31 years later. Daughters’ probability of pregnancy fell by 32% per 10 microg/L p,p’-DDT in maternal serum (95% CI 11-48). By contrast, the probability of pregnancy increased 16% per 10 microg/L p,p’-DDE (6-27). The decreased fecundability associated with prenatal p,p’-DDT remains unexplained. We speculate that the antiandrogenic activity of p,p’-DDE may mitigate harmful androgen effects on the ovary during gestation or early life.

Authors: Cohn BA; Cirillo PM; Wolff MS; Schwingl PJ; Cohen RD; Sholtz RI; Ferrara A; Christianson RE; van den Berg BJ; Siiteri PK

Lancet. 2003 Jun 28;361(9376):2205-6.

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