Occupational exposure to pesticides in female tea garden workers and adverse birth outcomes

Shashi Nandar Kumar, Kumar Vaibhav, Banajit Bastia, Vishwajeet Singh, Meenakshi Ahluwalia, Usha Agrawal, Deepa Borgohain, Sheikh Raisuddin, Arun Kumar Jain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Pesticides are globally used to eliminate pests from crops and plants. The increased use of pesticides has posed a serious threat to human health. This study evaluates the effects of pesticide exposure on pregnancy outcomes in tea garden workers (TGW). The acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity was measured in the maternal blood, placenta, and cord blood of TGW and housewives (HWs). The placental structure and expression of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α were also analyzed in TGW and HW groups delivering low birth weight (LBW) and normal birth weight (NBW) babies. A significantly decreased AChE activity was observed in maternal blood and cord blood in TGW as compared with HW in the LBW group. However, it did not change significantly in the NBW group (p <.05). The adjusted regression analysis of birth outcomes (birth weight, head circumference, infant's length, and ponderal index) revealed a significant and positive association with the levels of AChE activity in maternal blood, placenta, and cord blood in TGW (p <.05). The histological analysis showed significantly higher placental syncytial knots, chorangiosis, fibrinoid deposition, necrosis, and stromal fibrosis in the LBW group of TGW. Microinfarction, increased fibrinoid deposition, and atypical villi characteristics, such as mushroom-like structures, were observed during scanning electron microscopy along with increased HIF-1α expression in placental tissues of TGW exposed to pesticides. Results suggest that occupational pesticide exposure during pregnancy may decrease AChE activity and cause in utero pathological changes accompanied by an increased HIF-1α expression, which also contributes to placental insufficiency and fetal growth restriction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere22677
JournalJournal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • AChE
  • low birth weight
  • occupational pesticide exposure
  • placental hypoxia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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