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The evidence of harmful health effects from glyphosate is adding up. It's the most commonly used herbicide (weed killer) in the world, with nearly 300 million pounds of the pesticide (found in Roundup) applied each year in the United States! A recent study found that glyphosate is linked to preterm births in humans.

High levels of glyphosate and the glyphosate break-down product AMPA during late pregnancy (as measured in urine) are associated with preterm birth, according to recent research. This may be playing a role in why the United States has some of the highest rates of preterm birth rates among developed countries.

The study was conducted in Puerto Rico, where it is thought the high levels of environmental contamination (especially pesticides) plays a role in the especially high rates of preterm births (11.5%). Another study conducted in the United States (in rural Indiana with its high levels of glyphosate use on corn and soybean farms) also found shortened length of pregnancies.

Humans are exposed to glyphosate and glyphosate residues all sorts of ways, including in the foods we eat, soil, air, and water. Glyphosate is used not only as a weed-killer, but also applied to glyphosate resistant genetically engineered (GE) crops such as soy, canola, corn, and also right before harvest (preharvest) on many grain crops.

Besides preterm birth, glyphosate is linked to a number of other health problems (e.g. cancer, endocrine disruption). Studies also link glyphosate to disruptions of the human gut microbiome, with a recent study finding that glyphosate kills some key beneficial gut microbes.

Bottom line: Eat as many organic foods as possible, especially when pregnant. This is because organic farmers are not allowed to use glyphosate.

From Futurity: Team Links Popular Weed killer Chemical to Preterm Births

Exposure to a chemical found in the weed killer Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides is significantly associated with preterm births, according to a new study. ...continue reading "Common Weed Killer Linked to Preterm Births"

Of course we should expect to find bacteria in a healthy placenta. It only makes sense. But this is interesting stuff - the possibility that the placental biome being out of whack playing a role in preterm birth. From Medical Xpress:

Bacteria live even in healthy placentas, study finds

Surprising new research shows a small but diverse community of bacteria lives in the placentas of healthy pregnant women, overturning the belief that fetuses grow in a pretty sterile environment. These are mostly varieties of "good germs" that live in everybody. But the study also hints that the make-up of this microbial colony plays a role in premature birth.

We share our bodies with trillions of microbes—on the skin, in the gut, in the mouth. These communities are called our microbiome, and many bacteria play critical roles in keeping us healthy, especially those in the intestinal tract. Healthy newborns pick up some from their mother during birth, different bugs depending on whether they were delivered vaginally or by C-section. What about before birth?

Aagard's team earlier had studied the microbiome of the vagina, and learned that its composition changes when a woman becomes pregnant. The puzzle: The most common vaginal microbes weren't the same as the earliest gut bacteria that scientists were finding in newborns. What else, Aagaard wondered, could be "seeding" the infants' intestinal tract?

With colleagues from Baylor and Texas Children's Hospital, Aagaard analyzed 320 donated placentas, using technology that teases out bacterial DNA to evaluate the type and abundance of different microbes. The placenta isn't teeming with microbes—it harbors a low level, Aagaard stressed. Among them are kinds of E. coli that live in the intestines of most healthy people. But to Aagaard's surprise, the placental microbiome most resembled bacteria frequently found in the mouth, she reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The theory: Oral microbes slip into the mother's bloodstream and make their way to the placenta.

Why does the body allow them to stay? Aagaard said there appears to be a role for different microbes. Some metabolize nutrients. Some are toxic to yeast and parasites. Some act a bit like natural versions of medications used to stop preterm contractions, she said. In fact, among the 89 placentas that were collected after preterm births, levels of some of the apparently helpful bacteria were markedly lower, she said.