Chlordecone exposure and risk of congenital anomalies: the Timoun Mother-Child Cohort Study in Guadeloupe (French West Indies)

  • Florence RougetEmail author
  • Philippe Kadhel
  • Christine Monfort
  • Jean François Viel
  • Jean Pierre Thome
  • Sylvaine Cordier
  • Luc Multigner
Environmental and human health issues related to long term contamination by chlordecone in the French West Indies


Chlordecone is an organochlorine pesticide that was extensively used to control the banana root borer population in the French West Indies until 1993. Its persistence in soil has led to widespread pollution of the environment, and human beings, including pregnant women, are still exposed to this chemical. High levels of exposure to chlordecone during gestation have been shown to cause congenital anomalies, including undescended testes in rodents. We assessed the associations between chlordecone concentrations in maternal and cord plasma and the risk of congenital anomalies in the Timoun Mother-Child Cohort Study (2004–2007) that included 1068 pregnant women in Guadeloupe. Odds ratios were estimated using unconditional logistic regression analysis, controlling for confounding factors. The median plasma concentrations in maternal and cord plasma were 0.39 μg/L and 0.20 μg/L, respectively. Thirty-six children were diagnosed with malformations according to the European Registration of Congenital Anomalies guidelines and 25 with undescended testes. There was no association between maternal or cord plasma concentration of chlordecone and the risk of overall malformations nor undescended testes. These results suggest that prenatal exposure to the currently observed environmental levels of chlordecone in French West Indies does not increase the risk of birth defects.


Congenital anomalies Chlordecone Cryptorchidism Endocrine-disrupting chemicals French West Indies Insecticides Malformations Newborn Organochlorine Undescended testes 



This work was supported by grants from the French General Health Directorate (DGS RMC11129NNA).

Compliance with ethical standards

The research procedures were approved by the Guadeloupean Ethics Committee for biomedical studies involving human subjects (Project no. 03-04 01/10/2004).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11356_2019_6031_MOESM1_ESM.docx (31 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 31 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CHU de Rennes, Univ Rennes, Inserm, EHESPIrset (Institut de recherche en santé, environnement et travail) - UMR_S 1085RennesFrance
  2. 2.CHU de Pointe-à-Pitre, Univ Antilles, Univ Rennes, Inserm, EHESPIrset (Institut de recherche en santé, environnement et travail) - UMR_S 1085Pointe-à-PitreFrance
  3. 3.Univ Rennes, Inserm, EHESPIrset (Institut de recherche en santé, environnement et travail) - UMR_S 1085RennesFrance
  4. 4.LEAE-CART (Laboratoire d’Ecologie Animale et d’Ecotoxicologie-Centre de Recherche Analytique et Technologique)Université de LiègeLiègeBelgium

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