Impact of pesticides in fruits and vegetable on live birth rates in IVF

Fruits, vegetables and infertility and miscarriage

Fruits and vegetables are supposed to be good for you, right? It’s true. They are. However when you eat fruits and vegetables you are eating more than just the fruit or vegetable. In order to keep insects from destroying these crops, we use pesticides.

More than 90% of the US population has detectable concentrations of pesticides or their metabolites in their bodies. While pesticide exposure occurs through a variety of routes, the primary route in most people is through diet – especially from eating fruits and vegetables.

Women exposed to pesticides through their jobs and women living in or near agricultural areas seem to have a higher risk of infertility and adverse pregnancy outcomes such as miscarriage. Until now, however, there hasn’t been any studies to show whether women who are exposed to pesticides from eating a regular diet containing fruits and vegetables have the same risks or not.

A new study suggests looked at over 300 women with infertility who were going to be treated with IVF.

The total amount of fruits and vegetables that women ate did not have an impact on their chance for having a pregnancy or live birth from IVF. However, the researchers divided the fruits and vegetables into those that had a low or high amount of pesticide residue on them. They then determined whether women ate a larger or smaller amount of these fruits and vegetables. Here is what they found:

Compared with women who had less than one serving a day of the high pesticide fruits and vegetables, women who ate more than 2-3 servings a day had an 18% lower chance for pregnancy and a 26% lower chance for a live birth. On the other hand, eating the low pesticide fruits and vegetables did not have an impact on pregnancy or live birth.

The researchers then looked at the possibility of miscarriage. They found that the more high pesticide fruits and vegetables that a woman ate, the greater the likelihood that she would have a miscarriage – with the highest group miscarrying 34% of the time.

What should you do?

One interesting analysis that these researchers did was to look at the impact of swapping out a high pesticide fruit or vegetable with a low pesticide type. By doing this, women showed an 80% Improvement in the chance for pregnancy and an 88% increase chance for a live birth.

Since this is the first study of its kind, these conclusions should not be considered final or absolute. We also do not know if the same impact occurs and women who are trying to get pregnant without IVF or who do not have infertility. However, it seems reasonable to try to limit the amount of pesticide exposure in your fruits and vegetables. This may have a benefit on your ability to have a baby during IVF.

Dietary tips

  1. When eating fruits or vegetables try to choose those with lower pesticide residue over those with higher amounts (see listing below)
  2. When possible, choose organic fruits and vegetables which have lower amounts of pesticide residue
  3. Be sure to clean your fruits and vegetables thoroughly to try to remove as much pesticide residue as possible. Simple Tricks to Remove Pesticides From Fruits and Vegetables

Low pesticide residue

  • Peas or lima beans
  • Dried plums or prunes
  • Onions
  • Beans or lentils
  • Avocado
  • Corn, fresh or frozen
  • Cabbage or cole slaw
  • Orange juice,
  • Tomato sauce  / Tomato paste
  • Apple juice or cider
  • Cauliflower
  • Grapefruit

Intermediate pesticide residue

  • Cantaloupe
  • Tofu Soybeans
  • Bananas
  • Eggplant, summer squash, zucchini
  • Yam or sweet potatoes
  • Oranges
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Head lettuce, leaf lettuce
  • Celery

High pesticide residue

  • Tomatoes
  • Apple sauce
  • Blueberry, fresh or frozen
  • Kale, mustard, chard greens
  • Winter squash
  • Fresh apple or pear
  • String beans Green beans
  • Grape or raisin
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Peach or plum
  • Strawberries
  • Green/yellow/red peppers