In response to the rise of reproductive dysfunction in children, three French health organizations recently hosted the conference “Chemical environment, reproduction and child development” on November 25, 2008 in Paris. This scientific conference spoke to the influence of chemical substances such as “endocrine disruptors” on decreasing quality of spermatozoids, the rising incidence of testicular cancer and genital malformations in boys.
In an interview with the heads of these three agencies, including the French Ministries of the Environment and Health, the Institute for Public Health Research (Iresp) and the French Agency for Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (Afsset), Le Monde newspaper reports that two chemicals, phthaltes and BPA, are known to oppose the action of male hormones, called androgens. Exposure to anti-androgenic hormones during different periods of pregnancy result in genital malformations or abnormalities of the prostate in boys.
Recent political moves to address the impact of the environment on fertility are in response to growing social concern, motivated by more than 15 years of research on animals and epidemiological studies in humans supporting the link. Because people are exposed to a cocktail of products over long periods or during critical periods of development, it is difficult to determine the exact health impacts. President of Iresp, Alfred Spira, notes that in spite of this uncertainty, we should not wait for health conditions to fully manifest before we take protective measures.
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Written on 23 January 2009.