Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Environmental Health Perspectives


Volume 120, Issue 2

Inclusive Pages



Abortion; Spontaneous--chemically induced; Abortion; Spontaneous--epidemiology; Environmental Exposure; Environmental Pollutants--blood; Environmental Pollutants--toxicity; Fertilization in Vitro--drug effects; Pregnancy Outcome--epidemiology


Background: Hexachlorobenzene (HCB), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) are persistent chlorinated pesticides with endocrine activity that may adversely affect the early stages of human reproduction.

Objective: Our goal was to determine the association of serum levels of HCB, DDT, and DDE with implantation failure, chemical pregnancy, and spontaneous abortion in women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) from 1994 to 2003.

Methods: Levels of HCB and congeners of DDT and DDE were measured in serum collected during the follicular phase. Multivariable-adjusted statistical models accommodating multiple outcomes and multiple cycles per woman were used to estimate the relation between serum pesticide levels and IVF outcomes.

Results: A total of 720 women with a mean ± SD age 35.4 ± 4.2 years at enrollment contributed 774 IVF cycles. All samples had detectable levels of HCB, DDT, and DDE, with median levels of 0.087 ng/g serum for HCB, 1.12 ng/g serum for total DDT, and 1.04 ng/g serum for p,p´-DDE. Compared with the lowest quartile (Q1) of HCB, the lipid- and multivariable-adjusted odds ratio (OR) for failed implantation was significantly elevated for those with higher HCB quartiles [Q2–Q4; adjusted ORs: for Q2, 1.71; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.03, 2.82; for Q3, 2.30; 95% CI: 1.39, 3.81; for Q4, 2.32; 95% CI: 1.38, 3.90] and showed a significantly increasing trend (p = 0.001). No statistically significant associations were observed between DDT/DDE and IVF outcomes or between HCB and chemical pregnancy or spontaneous abortion.

Conclusions: Serum HCB concentrations were on average lower than that of the general U.S. population and associated with failed implantation among women undergoing IVF.


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