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Environmental exposures and development

Mattison, Donald R

Current Opinion in Pediatrics: April 2010 - Volume 22 - Issue 2 - p 208–218
doi: 10.1097/MOP.0b013e32833779bf
Therapeutics and toxicology: Edited by Robert O. Wright

Purpose of review Summarize recent studies exploring the relationship between paternal and maternal environmental exposures to chemicals before, at the time of and after conception to adverse developmental outcomes including preterm birth, death, structural and functional abnormalities and growth restriction.

Recent findings Recent studies have demonstrated that human pregnancy and development are vulnerable to environmental exposures of the father and mother to chemical, biological and physical agents. Exposures associated with adverse developmental outcomes include air and water pollution, chemicals in foods, occupational exposures, agricultural chemicals, metals, persistent and volatile organics. Developmental endpoints which are linked with these exposures include growth restriction, functional abnormalities, structural abnormalities, preterm delivery and death. Despite this general understanding we still have incomplete knowledge concerning most exposures and the biological interactions responsible for impaired development and preterm delivery.

Summary Whereas single genes and individual chemical exposures are responsible for some instances of adverse pregnancy outcome or developmental disease, gene–environment interactions are responsible for the majority. These gene–environment interactions may occur in the father, mother, placenta or fetus, suggesting that critical attention be given to maternal and paternal exposures and gene expression as they relate to the mode of action of the putative developmental toxicant both prior to and during pregnancy.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

Correspondence to Donald R. Mattison, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, Building 31, Room 1B44, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA Tel: +1 301 451 3823; e-mail:

The paper was prepared by an employee of the US Government making this a ‘work of the US Government’ and therefore copyright is nontransferrable.

Disclaimer: The opinions stated in this chapter are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health or the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.