Reviews of this type are published every so often to draw attention to a problem that has been studied for many years from several different perspectives. Such studies can paint an alarming picture. But closer scrutiny usually reveals methodological limitations that call into question the validity of the findings. So the outcome is usually a recommendation for more research.
Brender JD, Weyer PJ. Agricultural Compounds in Water and Birth Defects. Current Environmental Health Reports. 2016 Mar 23.
Agricultural compounds have been detected in drinking water, some of which are teratogens in animal models. The most commonly detected agricultural compounds in drinking water include nitrate, atrazine, and desethylatrazine. Arsenic can also be an agricultural contaminant, although arsenic often originates from geologic sources. Nitrate has been the most studied agricultural compound in relation to prenatal exposure and birth defects. In several case-control studies published since 2000, women giving birth to babies with neural tube defects, oral clefts, and limb deficiencies were more likely than control mothers to be exposed to higher concentrations of drinking water nitrate during pregnancy. Higher concentrations of atrazine in drinking water have been associated with abdominal defects, gastroschisis, and other defects. Elevated arsenic in drinking water has also been associated with birth defects. Since these compounds often occur as mixtures, it is suggested that future research focus on the impact of mixtures, such as nitrate and atrazine, on birth defects.