ISSN 1470-3947 (print) | ISSN 1479-6848 (online)

Endocrine Abstracts (2019) 63 S11.3 | DOI: 10.1530/endoabs.63.S11.3

Mitigating against endocrine disruption in pregnancy

Katharina M Main


Three decades ago wildlife findings of intersex, malformations and sex ratio changes in marine species, birds and mammals could be associated to environmental pollution. Public concern arose as to whether this was also a threat to humans as many countries experience an increase i.e. in the prevalence of infertility and obesity. Humans are continuously exposed to small doses of hundreds of EDCs throughout life and we know very little about their combined effects. Over the past 10–15 years more and more plausible links are being established between chemical exposures to a large range of new and old, persistent and non-persistent, chemicals and male as well as female reproductive health, i.e. dioxins, PCBs, flame retardants, perfluorinated chemicals, pesticides, phthalates, parabens, phenols and UV filters. Especially foetal exposure during pregnancy has been linked to adverse health effects in the offspring as this period is a vulnerable developmental window. After initial scepticism, many academic societies have endorsed the concept of endocrine disruption through environmental chemicals and modern lifestyle. Their support helps on many fronts: promoting research in the field, raising funds, engaging producers of customer products in better labelling and development of safer alternatives, increasing public awareness as well as prompting governmental agencies into action. Population cohort biomonitoring studies show that regulatory bans of chemicals in consumer products, i.e. certain phthalates, indeed lower individual exposure and thereby the individual ‘cocktail load’. In parallel, it is paramount to ensure that any novel chemical is well-tested for endocrine disrupting effects before being approved for unlimited use.

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