A new study has found a potentially harmful link between eating fruits and vegetables high in pesticides and having lower reproductive rates.
In the report, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, scientists studied 325 women who were using assisted reproductive technologies to get pregnant.
They were part of the Environment and Reproductive Health (EARTH) study, which was designed to measure factors that can affect reproductive success. The women in the study filled out detailed questionnaires about their diet, along with other factors that can affect In vitro fertilisation (IVF) outcomes, like their age, weight and history of pregnancy and live births.
Senior investigator Dr. Jorge Chavarro, an associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, and his colleagues then matched the dietary responses with a U.S. government database of average pesticide residues on fresh fruit and vegetables to calculate a measure of the amount of pesticides the women were exposed to from their diet.
Certain fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, spinach and peppers, tend to consistently rank high on pesticide residues, while others, like peas and avocados, rank lower.
Women with high exposure were eating more than two servings of high-pesticide fruits or vegetables a day, compared to women in the lowest exposure group, who ate one serving of high pesticide fruits and vegetables daily on average.
Women who had the highest pesticide exposure were 18% less likely to get pregnant than women with the lowest exposure, and 26% less likely to have a live birth.