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Endocrine disruption and reproductive outcomes in women.
Janssen-S; Fujimoto-VY; Guidice-LC
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals: from basic research to clinical practice. Gore AC, ed. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press, 2007 Jun; :203-223
Infertility and associated problems of the female reproductive tract, such as endometriosis, abnormal menstrual cycles, and premature menopause, are diagnosed in women of reproductive age. For this reason, reproductive problems are usually considered to be "adult" conditions. Whereas, some female reproductive problems are the result of contaminant exposures during adulthood, there is increasing evidence that exposures early in life can result in permanent and irreversible changes to the reproductive tract, which are not manifest until decades later. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) early in life may alter development of the reproductive tract and hormonal responsiveness in adulthood. Coupled with this evidence are a number of disturbing trends in some geographic regions, including a reduction in fertility, an increase in hormone-sensitive cancers, an earlier age of puberty in girls, and a decrease in the number of boys being born. Evidence from animal studies indicates that these conditions are likely to originate during the prenatal period. Exposures to environmental contaminants early in life are of particular importance, because the reproductive system is undergoing an intricately orchestrated process of growth and differentiation. A fetus is vulnerable not only because of the rapid development and growth that are occurring, but also because it possesses immature and underdeveloped excretion pathways, low levels of chemicalbinding proteins, and an underdeveloped blood-brain barrier that is unable to protect the nervous system from toxic exposures.
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Endocrine-disrupting chemicals: from basic research to clinical practice
University of California, Berkeley
Page last reviewed: January 29, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division