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Biological Sampling Completed for Study of Glyphosate Exposure in Pregnant Women

Our research team in the Curl Agricultural Health Lab has been conducting a long-term study of pregnant women’s exposure to glyphosate. The goal of this study is to understand both the magnitude of that exposure, and to determine how much glyphosate exposure comes from dietary and agricultural sources. We are pleased to report that enrollment and sample collection is complete.

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in herbicides such as Roundup, is the most commonly used agricultural chemical in the world. However, there is a  growing body of literature suggesting a possible relationship between glyphosate exposure and negative health outcomes, and estimates on human exposure are inadequate. The goal of this study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is to 1) validate a longitudinal biomonitoring strategy to assess glyphosate exposure in pregnant women; 2) measure glyphosate exposure in a cohort of 40 pregnant women and quantify the relationship between this exposure and residential proximity to glyphosate-treated fields; and 3) measure the contribution of the dietary pathway to total glyphosate exposure.

In order to complete these goals, Dr. Cynthia Curl and her research team, in collaboration with Women, Infant, and Children clinics, successfully recruited 40 pregnant women living in Southwestern and South Central Idaho. Women were enrolled during their first trimester and weekly urine samples were collected throughout their entire pregnancies. A total of 864 weekly urine samples were collected (a 97% success rate). In addition, during a two-week long dietary intervention where participants were randomly assigned to eat one week of organic food and one week of conventional food, daily urine samples were collected with a 97% success rate (531 samples collected/546 total possible samples). Samples have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for glyphosate analysis, with results expected this summer.