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Welcome to PSR's Environmental Health Policy Institute, where we ask questions -- then we ask the experts to answer them. Join us as physicians, health professionals, and environmental health experts share their ideas, inspiration, and analysis about toxic chemicals and environmental health policy.


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How is the developing fetus vulnerable to toxic chemical exposures, and how can our regulatory system more effectively protect our health in the prenatal period?

Posted by Molly Rauch, MPH on February 2, 2012

We are exposed to industrial chemicals in the environment throughout our lives. But because growth is rapid and basic organ systems are under development during the prenatal and early childhood period, exposures during those times may have greater impact on our health than exposures when we are adults. Prenatal exposures to some toxins can harm the fetus at levels that have no obvious effect on the mother. Moreover, some parental exposures even in the preconception period may harm the future child.

The prevention of avoidable harm is a crucial role of healthcare providers, public health practitioners, and health advocates. To be effective, such prevention must encompass the entire life span, and focus special attention on the periods of greatest vulnerability. Foremost among those is the prenatal period. This month we explore the vulnerability of the developing fetus, as well as the limits of the current regulatory system to address this vulnerability.


How can our regulatory system more effectively protect the health of the developing fetus?
Laura Anderko, PhD RN

Protecting the Fetus from Harmful Pollutants: Lead, pesticides, mercury, and endocrine disruptors
Susan Buchanan, MD MPH

Male-Mediated Teratogens and Endocrine Disruptors: Pesticides, solvents, and cell phone radiation
Devra Davis, PhD, MPH

Stronger Chemical Regulations Are Needed to Prevent Prenatal Exposures
Katie Huffling, RN MS CNM

Why and how is the developing fetus vulnerable to toxic chemical exposures?
Susan F. Katz, MD

Prenatal Exposures: A continuum of vulnerability to environmental toxicants
Jerome A. Paulson, MD FAAP

Food Matters: In Hospitals and For Prenatal Health
Jessica Trowbridge, MPH

The views expressed in these essays are those of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Physicians for Social Responsibility.


Mathias van Thiel PhD Chemist said ..

A lot more data is needed to move the consevrative corporate world

February 10, 2012
Gerrit Crouse, PhD said ..

Every American now has 70 - 100+ commercial & industrial chemical elements & compounds circulating in our bloodstreams & sequestered in our body fat, accumulated over the past 3 decades, the interaction effects of which have not been determined. It seems to me that the assembled experts here, marvelous people though they are, are being employed as domesticated advertisements, sophisticated supplements to the WMDs (weapons of mass distraction)--TV docudrama news, the am radio rage pimps, the newspapers printing only the News That's Fit to Print, that constantly batter the citizenry. Until the transnational corporations are effectively regulated & their drive for short-term private financial profit & pathological pursuit of meaningless power is controlled, we have no future on this planet. That is what the #Occupy Wall Street movement is about.

February 8, 2012
Dorice madronero said ..

Let's get mercury out of dental amalgam, the so called silver fillings are 50% mercury. FDA has still not taken action on the 2010 hearing where it was affirmed there is not data to prove safety to children under age of 6 or pregnant women.

February 8, 2012

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