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A new study raises further concerns about the potentially widespread health risks associated with Roundup, finding that an alarming number of pregnant women are exposed to glyphosate contained in the widely used weedkiller, which may increase risk the premature births.
Researchers from Indiana University and the University of California San Francisco published a study last week in the medical journal Environmental Health, which found that more than 90% of pregnant women may have detectable levels of glyphosate. The study also linked the levels of glyphosate in the bodies of pregnant women to an increased risk of premature births.
The study looked at urine samples and residential drinking water samples from 71 pregnant women in Central Indiana, while they underwent routine prenatal care. Most of the women were white, and had a mean age of 29 years.
According to the findings, 93% had glyphosate levels above the limit of detection, which is 0.1 ng/mL. The mean urinary level of glyphosate was 3.40 ng/mL, with the highest levels found among women who lived in rural areas and those who consumed more than 24 ounces of caffeinated beverages per day. Glyphosate was not found in any of the drinking water samples.
The findings also indicated that higher glyphosate urine levels significantly correlated with shortened gestational lengths.
“There is growing evidence that even a slight reduction in gestational length can lead to lifelong adverse consequences,” Shahid Parvez, the lead investigator and an assistant professor in Indiana University’s Department of Environmental Health Science, said in a press release. “One thing we cannot deny is that glyphosate exposure in pregnant women is real.”
Parvez said that while the study’s findings indicate that water treatment processes are successful in removing glyphosate from drinking water, it appears that the main avenue of exposure is through genetically modified food and caffeinated beverages.
“Pregnant women from rural areas had signficantly higher urinary (glyphosate) levels than suburban residents,” the study notes. “Since the majority of rural participants were not farmers or directly involved in Roundup application, this suggests the inhalation of contaminated air or dust may represent another exposure pathway for higher urine (glyphosate) levels in rural areas.”
The findings come amid concerns over the last two years regarding the prevalence of glyphosate in food, and studies indicating that it may increase the risk of cancer.
Concerns over the potential Roundup cancer risks have been the subject of global concerns since mid-2015, when the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined that glyphosate is likely a cancer-causing agent. The IARC specifically linked the Roundup to an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Monsanto now faces a growing number of Roundup lawsuits filed throughout the United States, typically involving individuals diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma following heavy exposure to the herbicide as a farm or agricultural worker. The complaints allege that the manufacturer recklessly promoted Roundup and pushed greater and greater use of the chemical, without disclosing the potential health risks.