Pesticides and metals may disrupt thyroid function, which is key to fetal brain development.
To evaluate if current-use pesticide exposures, lead and excess manganese alter free thyroxine (FT4), free triiodothyronine (FT3), and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) concentrations in pregnant women from the Infants’ Environmental Health Study (ISA).
At enrollment, we determined women’s (n = 400) specific-gravity corrected urinary pesticide (μg/L) metabolite concentrations of mancozeb (ethylene thiourea (ETU)), pyrimethanil, thiabendazole, chlorpyrifos, synthetic pyrethroids, and 2,4-D. We also measured manganese hair (MnH) (μg/g) and blood (MnB) (μg/L), and blood lead (PbB) (μg/L) concentrations. To detect an immediate and late effect on thyroid homeostasis, we determined TSH, FT4 and FT3 in serum obtained at the same visit (n = 400), and about ten weeks afterwards (n = 245). We assessed associations between exposures and outcomes with linear regression and general additive models, Bayesian multivariate linear regression, and Bayesian kernel machine regression.
About 80%, 94%, and 100% of the women had TSH, FT4, and FT3 within clinical reference ranges, respectively. Women with higher urinary ETU, and pyrimethanil-metabolites, had lower FT4: β = -0.79 (95%CI = -1.51, -0.08) and β = -0.29 (95%CI = -0.62, -0.03), respectively, for each tenfold increase in exposure. MnB was positively associated with FT4 (β = 0.04 (95%CI = 0.00, 0.07 per 1 μg/L increase), and women with high urinary pyrethroid-metabolite concentrations had decreased TSH (non-linear effects). For the late-effect analysis, metabolites of pyrethroids and chlorpyrifos, as well as MnH, and PbB were associated decreased TSH, or increased FT4 and/or FT3.
Mancozeb (ETU) and pyrimethanil may inhibit FT4 secretion (hypothyroidism-like effect), while chlorpyrifos, pyrethroids, MnB, MnH, PbB and Mn showed hyperthyroidism-like effects. Some effects on thyroid homeostasis seemed to be immediate (mancozeb (ETU), pyrimethanil, MnB), others delayed (chlorpyrifos, MnH, PbB), or both (pyrethroids), possibly reflecting different mechanisms of action.

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