The pesticide residues on fruit and vegetables that women consume can compromise their chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The researchers looked at 325 women undergoing infertility treatment and collected information about the fresh fruits and vegetables they ate. Using government data on average pesticide residues, the study team estimated the women’s exposure to the chemicals.
They found that women who ate more than two daily servings of the fruits and vegetables with the highest average pesticide residues were 18 percent less likely to get pregnant, and 26 percent less likely to have a live birth than women with the least exposure to pesticides. Produce with high pesticide residues includes strawberries, spinach, peppers, and grapes. The researchers suggested that women who want to conceive choose organic fruits and vegetables or stick to those with low pesticide levels, such as avocados, peas, onions, and oranges. The study didn’t prove that consuming fruits and vegetables with high pesticide residue caused infertility seen in the study but do suggest that pesticides may be a contributing factor to a woman’s failure to conceive or to have a live birth.