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Depression and Pesticide Exposures in Female Spouses of Licensed Pesticide Applicators in the Agricultural Health Study Cohort

Beseler, Cheryl PhD; Stallones, Lorann PhD, MPH; Hoppin, Jane A. ScD; Alavanja, Michael C. R. DrPH; Blair, Aaron PhD; Keefe, Thomas PhD; Kamel, Freya PhD, MPH

Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: October 2006 - Volume 48 - Issue 10 - pp 1005-1013
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000235938.70212.dd
Original Articles

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.

From the Colorado Injury Control Research Center, Department of Psychology (Dr Beseler, Dr Stallones), Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado; Mailman School of Public Health, Biostatistics Department (Dr Beseler), Columbia University, New York, NY; the Epidemiology Branch (Dr Hoppin, Dr Kamel), National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (Dr Alavanja), National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, Maryland; the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (Dr Blair), National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, Maryland; and the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences (Dr Keefe), Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.

CME Available for this Article at ACOEM.org

This research was supported in part by the Intramural Research Program of the NIH, National Cancer Institute and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Cheryl Beseler, PhD has no commercial interest related to this article.

Address correspondence to: Cheryl Beseler, PhD, Colorado Injury Control Research Center, Department of Psychology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523; E-mail: cbeseler@lamar.colostate.edu

©2006The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine