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Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000235938.70212.dd
Original Articles

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

Continued Medical Education
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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.

©2006The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine


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