Objective: This nested case–control study evaluated the association between depression and pesticide exposure among women.
Methods: The study population included 29,074 female spouses of private pesticide applicators enrolled in the Agricultural Health Study between 1993 and 1997. Cases were women who had physician-diagnosed depression requiring medication. Lifetime pesticide use was categorized as never mixed/applied pesticides, low exposure (up to 225 days), high exposure (>225 days), and a history of diagnosed pesticide poisoning.
Results: After adjustment for state, age, race, off-farm work, alcohol, cigarette smoking, physician visits, and solvent exposure, depression was significantly associated with a history of pesticide poisoning (odds ratio [OR] = 3.26; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.72–6.19) but not low (OR = 1.09; CI = 0.91–1.31) or high (OR = 1.09; 95% CI = 0.91–1.31) cumulative pesticide exposure.
Conclusion: Pesticide poisoning may contribute to risk of depression.