Glyphosate and Pregnancy: A Dangerous Combination


A study conducted by Indiana University has found that glyphosate and pregnancy don’t mix. 99% of pregnant women in their sample group had traces of glyphosate in their urine. According to Cambridge University, glyphosate is the most consumed pesticide worldwide, and this pesticide may be causing premature births. 

Several studies regarding glyphosate’s prenatal effects have arrived at a common conclusion. Aside from an increased risk of cancer, exposure to glyphosate during pregnancy increases the risk of pre-term birth.

Approximately 1 million babies die every year from pre-term labor complications. Survivors of pre-term complications tend to face a lifetime of medical disabilities. 

Glyphosate is most popularly found in Roundup, one of the world’s most commonly used herbicides. 

The 2022 Glyphosate and Pregnancy Study

A study, called “Glyphosate exposure in early pregnancy and reduced fetal growth,” was conducted by Indiana University. It found that the traces of glyphosate in urine have risen from 93% to 99% since their last small-scale study in 2018.

Over several years, first trimester urine samples were randomly taken from pregnant women who were at high risk for glyphosate exposure. The study measured the increase in admissions to neonatal intensive care units and a change in adjusted birth weight. 

The study found that 186 of 187 women showed urine levels of glyphosate above the detection limit. It was also found that the birth weight percentile of newborns was negatively related to glyphosate. Women who lived in more rural areas of Indiana, where pesticides are most commonly used, had babies in lower birth weight percentiles. 

The study’s lead author, Paul Winchester, a neonatologist, noted, “Pesticide exposure in pregnancy, especially in early pregnancy, can imprint DNA and alter gene expression. But little is known about how these chemicals can impact fetal development in humans.”

Winchester also commented on how many studies done previously have identified negative effects caused by exposure to glyphosate. However, as many of the studies indicate, little is known of its overall effect on humans. 

The study done by Winchester was small scale with less than 200 participants. Other small-scale studies have drawn similar conclusions regarding glyphosate, It is clear that more expansive research should be conducted to solidify the connection between pre-term birth and the worlds most common herbicide. 

“The continuous lack of richer and more diverse evidence on the potential health effects of pesticides is problematic,” says Manolis Kogevinas from Environmental Health Perspectives. The reasoning for lack of research is the complicated regulatory and legal situation glyphosate is in.

Roundup, Monsanto, and Cancer

Glyphosate, as mentioned above, is sold as Roundup herbicide. It is produced by Monsanto, which made some of its first profits by producing Agent Orange, responsible for killing countless thousands of people during the Vietnam War. 

Monsanto was purchased in 2018 by pharmaceutical magnate Bayer. The Roundup catalogue forms in and around half of Monsanto’s revenue. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency changed the status of glyphosate to probably not cancerous in 2016, when the incoming presidential administration appointed corporation-friendly leadership to head the EPA. The overwhelming case precedence, though, begs to differ on that status.  

An appeals court opined in 2022 that the 2016 process of classifying glyphosate as safe had been less than thorough. It noted chummy emails between Monsanto executives and EPA decision makers. The court recommended that the EPA review the classification approval and provide a more thorough examination of scientific facts.

The University of Washington does believe glyphosate to be carcinogenic and to seriously increase the likelihood of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. In 2007, a California man was diagnosed with this particular cancer. He laid the blame on Monsanto, claiming that over decades while spraying his five-acre plot, he never once saw or received a warning about Roundup. 

Since the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015 deemed glyphosate carcinogenic, thousands upon thousands of plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against Monsanto. All claim that Roundup was the cause for their cancer. There are now tens of thousands of outstanding lawsuits against Bayer-Monsanto filed by plaintiffs who believe their cancer was caused by Roundup.