Reproductive health experts are calling for preventive action on the harmful effects of exposure to toxic environmental chemicals during pregnancy and breastfeeding, following a new report by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO).
According to FIGO, pollutants are found in pregnant and lactating women across the globe, and research shows that virtually every pregnant woman in the U.S. has at least 43 different environmental chemicals in her body. A report by the U.S. National Cancer Institute found that “to a disturbing extent, babies are born ‘pre-polluted.’”
Documented links between prenatal exposure and adverse health outcomes span the life course and include impacts on fertility and pregnancy, neurodevelopment, and cancer, according to FIGO. The "Special Communication: Reproductive Health Impacts of Exposure to Toxic Environmental Chemicals" report states:
Widespread exposure to toxic environmental chemicals threatens healthy human reproduction. Industrial chemicals are used and discarded in every aspect of daily life and are ubiquitous in food, water, air, and consumer products. Exposure to environmental chemicals and metals permeates all parts of life across the globe. Toxic chemicals enter the environment through food and energy production, industrial emissions and accidents, waste, transportation, and the making, use, and disposal of consumer and personal care products.
The industrialized food system is a major contributor to the introduction of toxic chemicals—from pesticides to plastics—into the environment, the report states.
Of particular concern is exposure to known endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which are found in food packaging, pesticides, cosmetics and household products, including chemical coatings.
The 2012 WHO/United Nations Environment Programme State of the Science on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals states that “[c]lose to 800 environmental chemicals are known or suspected to be capable of interfering with hormones... The vast majority of chemicals in current commercial use have not been tested at all."
Read the report here.