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Reproductive environmental health

Sutton, Patrice; Giudice, Linda C; Woodruff, Tracey J

Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology: December 2010 - Volume 22 - Issue 6 - p 517–524
doi: 10.1097/GCO.0b013e3283404e59
Healthcare management strategies: Edited by Michael C. Lu

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.

Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, University of California, San Francisco, Oakland, California, USA

Correspondence to Patrice Sutton, MPH, Research Scientist, Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, University of California, San Francisco, 1330 Broadway, Suite 1100, Oakland, CA 94612, USA Tel: +1 510 986 8927; e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.