Purpose of review: There is heightened recognition that the environment is an important driver of human reproductive health. This article provides an overview of the nature and extent of the science in the field of reproductive environmental health and its implications for OB/GYN clinical practice.
Recent findings: Women of childbearing age incur ubiquitous contact to numerous toxic environmental contaminants. Even subtle perturbations caused by chemical exposures during critical and sensitive windows of development may lead to increased risks of disease and disability across the entire span of human life. The strength of the evidence is sufficiently high that leading scientists and clinicians have called for timely action to prevent harm.
Summary: OB/GYNs are uniquely poised to intervene in critical stages of human development (i.e., preconception and during pregnancy) to prevent harm. Efforts are underway to provide clinicians with the evidence-based foundation to develop recommendations for prevention. If adopted, current directions in toxicity testing, risk assessment and policy are likely to create important changes in how environmental chemicals are evaluated and regulated in the future. Together, these changes have the potential to assist in clinical assessment of patient risk and reductions in patient exposure to environmental contaminants linked to adverse reproductive health outcomes.