In Utero Exposure to Atrazine Analytes and Early Menarche in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children Cohort

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Background: Evidence from experimental studies suggests that atrazine and its analytes alter the timing of puberty in laboratory animals. Such associations have not been investigated in humans.

Objective: To determine the association between in utero exposure to atrazine analytes and earlier menarche attainment in a nested case-control study of the population-based Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.

Methods: Cases were girls who reported menarche before 11.5 years while controls were girls who reported menarche at or after 11.5 years. Seven atrazine analyte concentrations were measured in maternal gestational urine samples (sample gestation week median (IQR): 12 (8–17)) during the period 1991–1992, for 174 cases and 195 controls using high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. We evaluated the study association using multivariate logistic regression, adjusting for potential confounders. We used multiple imputation to impute missing confounder data for 29% of the study participants.

Results: Diaminochlorotriazine (DACT) was the most frequently detected analyte (58%>limit of detection [LOD]) followed by desethyl atrazine (6%), desethyl atrazine mercapturate (3%), atrazine mercapturate (1%), hydroxyl atrazine (1%), atrazine (1%) and desisopropyl atrazine (0.5%). Because of low detection of other analytes, only DACT was included in the exposure–outcome analyses. The adjusted odds of early menarche for girls with DACT exposures≥median was 1.13 (95% Confidence Interval [95% CI]:0.82, 1.55) and exposure

Conclusions: This study is the first to examine the association between timing of menarche and atrazine analytes. We found a weak, non-significant association between in-utero exposure to atrazine metabolite DACT and early menarche, though the association was significant in the subset of girls with complete confounder information. Further exploration of the role of these exposures in female reproduction in other cohorts is needed.