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In utero Exposure to DDT and Incidence of Diarrhea Among Boys from Tropical Mexico

Lea A. Cupul-Uicab, Efraín A. Terrazas-Medina, Mauricio Hernández-Ávila, Matthew P. Longnecker.
Environmental Research (2017). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2017.08.027 PMID: 28841520



A higher incidence rate (IR) of acute gastrointestinal (GI) infections associated with prenatal exposure to p,p′-DDE was suggested by the results in two studies. Given the high mortality rate due to childhood diarrhea in some countries with ongoing use of DDT, additional data on this association is relevant for those making decisions about vector-borne disease control.

To evaluate whether higher levels of prenatal exposure to p,p′-DDE and p,p′-DDT increase the risk of having diarrhea in a birth cohort of boys from tropical Mexico.

Our analysis was based on 747 boys whose exposure was measured in maternal serum collected at delivery (2002–2003). Mothers reported the number of diarrhea episodes of their children during in-person interviews. The median age of the children at their last interview was 21.4 months. Poisson regression models were fitted to estimate adjusted incidence rate ratios (aIRR) of diarrhea by levels of p,p′-DDE and p,p′-DDT.

Overall, there were 1.7 episodes of diarrhea per child-year. Among those in the highest category of exposure (> 9 µg DDE/g serum lipid), the aIRR for diarrhea was 1.14 (95% CI: 0.94, 1.30) compared to those in the lowest category of exposure (≤ 3 µg/g). Among boys living in the urban area, the corresponding aIRR was 1.39 (95% CI: 1.07–1.80). Among rural boys, no associations emerged.

Although the results were consistent with a small positive association, the overall estimate was not precise. While urban boys in this study appeared to be more susceptible to DDE-associated diarrhea, a ready explanation for such increased susceptibility was not apparent.


Table 1. Characteristics of the mothers and their sons at enrollment or during follow-up.

Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico 2002–2005.

Table 2. IRR of diarrhea according to prenatal exposure to p,p′-DDE and p,p′-DDT among 747 boys.

from Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico 2002–2005.

Table 3. Adjusteda IRR of diarrhea according to prenatal exposure to p,p′-DDE and p,p′-DDT among boys.

from Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico 2002–2005. Stratified on residence area.
a Adjusted for mother's age at delivery, parity, and poverty index.

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