Combined effect of prenatal solvent exposure and GSTT1 or GSTM1 polymorphisms in the risk of birth defects


  • Some data from this manuscript have been presented at the annual conference of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE) – International Society of Exposure Analysis (ISEA), September 2008, Pasadena, California.

  • The PELAGIE cohort is funded by the National Research Agency, the French Institute of Public Health Surveillance, INSERM, the Regional Council of Brittany, the Ministry of Labor, and the French Agency for Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety.


Exposure to solvents during pregnancy has long been suspected to increase the risk of congenital malformations. Glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) are enzymes essential for the detoxification of various chemicals. Our objective here was to assess whether GST polymorphisms might modify the association between maternal solvent exposure and the risk of birth defects. A prospective cohort included 3421 pregnant women in Brittany, France (2002–2006). Occupational exposure to solvents was assessed from a job-exposure matrix. Congenital malformations were diagnosed among livebirths, stillbirths, and medical pregnancy terminations. Using a nested case-control design, 32 babies with major birth defects were compared to 348 normal births for babies' cord blood genotypes (at GSTT1 and GSTM1) and maternal occupational solvent exposure. Logistic models were used to adjust for potential confounders. The risk of major defects increased significantly in women with solvent exposure (20% of controls and 34% of cases). Frequencies of the null genotype of both the GSTT1 and GSTM1 genes were similar among controls and cases. There was a significantly increased risk of birth defects in GSTM1 not-null cord-blood genotype in pregnancies exposed to solvents (odds ratio [OR], 1.0 for not-null, not-exposed; OR, 4.0 for not-null, exposed; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.4–11.2; OR, 1.6 for null, not-exposed; 95% CI, 0.6–3.9; OR, 1.0 for null, exposed; 95% CI, 0.2–4.7; p = 0.05). This nested case-control study suggests that the child's GSTM1 genotype modifies the risk of major birth defects among offspring of solvent-exposed women. Replication and additional investigations are necessary to confirm and elucidate these findings. Birth Defects Research (Part A), 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.