Paternal dioxin, preterm birth, intrauterine growth retardation, and infant death

Joel E. Michalek, Alton J. Rahe, Coleen A. Boyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


We studied paternal exposure to Agent Orange and its dioxin contaminant (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin) and preterm birth, intrauterine growth retardation, or infant death in veterans of Operation Ranch Hand, the unit responsible for spraying herbicides during the Vietnam war. A Comparison group of Air Force veterans who served in Southeast Asia during the same time period and who were not occupationally exposed to herbicides was included. We studied children conceived during or after the father's service in Southeast Asia and based exposure on paternal dioxin measured in 1987 or 1992 extrapolated to the time of conception of the child. We assigned each child to one of four exposure categories: Comparison and three Ranch Hand categories (Background, Low, High). Children in the High (relative risk = 1.3) and Background (relative risk = 1.4) categories were at increased risk of preterm birth. The risk of intrauterine growth retardation was not increased in any exposure category. The risk of infant death was increased in all Ranch Hand children, with the greatest increases in the High (relative risk = 4.5) and Background (relative risk = 3.2) categories. These patterns indicate that the increases in the relative risk of preterm birth and infant death may not be related to paternal dioxin level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-167
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1998


  • Dioxin
  • Infant death
  • Intrauterine growth retardation
  • Prenatal exposures
  • Preterm birth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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