The exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals EDCs during pregnancy and postnatal development may have long-term effects on adult health and reproduction, says a recently published paper.
The paper summarizes various studies reporting links between early-life exposure to EDCs and epigenetic alterations which become manifest in adult life. For instance some dioxins, heavy metals and pesticides suspected to be endocrine disruptors, may interfere with normal genetic programming and early exposure to these chemicals could increase the risk of developing diseases such as cancer, diabetes, infertility or obesity in adult life.
The study raises concerns about the possibility of exposure to endocrine disruptors having effects that could be transferred to future generations. They give the example of DES (Diethylstilbestrol), a medication commonly administered to pregnant women in the 1940-70s. DES is an endocrine disruptor which has been shown to have health effects across generations. The women who took DES in pregnancy have an increased risk in breast cancer, their daughters an increased risk of vaginal, cervical and breast cancer, and infertility, and other health problems have been found for both daughters and sons.
The paper has been published in Aging and Disease and can be found here