More than 90 percent of pregnant women in a small Indiana study had glyphosate in their urine, and higher concentrations were associated with earlier deliveries.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the most heavily used herbicide in the United States and worldwide, the study team writes in the journal Environmental Health.
“Glyphosate is often used on major crops on a day-to-day basis . . . but we hardly know anything about how humans are exposed,” said lead author Shahid Parvez, a researcher at the Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health in Indianapolis.
“We’ve received an overwhelming response because there’s a lot of concern about this chemical,” Parvez told Reuters Health in a telephone interview. “We don’t want to cause unnecessary panic, but we do want to understand how it affects pregnancy and human health.”
Nearly 300 million pounds of Roundup are applied across U.S. farms each year, with the heaviest use in the Midwest, Parvez and his colleagues write.
In 2015 and 2016, the researchers recruited 71 pregnant women in central Indiana and surveyed them about their food and beverage consumption, lifestyle, stress and where they lived. The women also provided two urine samples and two drinking water samples from their homes.
Researchers tested the water and urine for glyphosate and divided women into four groups based on their urine concentration of the chemical. After women gave birth, researchers used medical records to determine their pregnancy length.