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E-M:/ Scientists Warn of Chemical Danger to Fetuses

Title: Scientists Warn of Chemical Danger to Fetuses
An international scientific conference has forged a new consensus statement on the importance of fetal exposures for adult health.

The scientists urged leaders not to wait for more scientific certainty and recommended that governments revise regulations and procedures to take into account subtle effects on fetal and infant development.

This is another in a series of warnings about our failed regulatory system in the US and in Michigan.

The statement begins:

Fetal life and early infancy are periods of remarkable susceptibility to environmental hazards. Toxic exposures to chemical pollutants during these windows of increased susceptibility can cause disease and disability in infants, children, and across the entire span of human life. Among the effects of toxic exposures recognised in the past have been congenital malformations and other adverse pregnancy outcomes. These outcomes may be readily apparent and have been linked to toxicant exposures during or prior to pregnancy. Even subtle effects caused by chemical exposures during early development may lead to important functional deficits and increased risks of disease later in life. The notion of developmental plasticity of organ functions and disease risks has gained much support from both experimental and epidemiological studies. The timing of exposure - with an emphasis on critical windows of susceptibility - has therefore become a crucial factor to be considered in toxicological assessments. 
New research on rodent models shows that developmental exposures to toxic chemicals, such as the hormonally active substances, diethylstilbestrol, tributyl tin, bisphenol A, genistein, can increase the incidence of reproductive abnormalities, metabolic disorders, including obesity and diabetes, and cancer.

To see the consensus statement:

And to see a sampling of the coverage of the issue in the LA Times, which has consistently provided extensive coverage of these issues:

Common chemicals pose danger for fetuses, scientists warm
Exposure to toxic materials in the womb can cause health problems later in life, an international panel declares.
By Marla Cone, Times Staff Writer
May 25, 2007
In a strongly worded declaration, many of the world's leading environmental scientists warned Thursday that exposure to common chemicals makes babies more likely to develop an array of health problems later in life, including diabetes, attention deficit disorders, prostate cancer, fertility problems, thyroid disorders and even obesity.

The declaration by about 200 scientists from five continents amounts to a vote of confidence in a growing body of evidence that humans are vulnerable to long-term harm from toxic exposures in the womb and during their first years.

Convening in the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic, toxicologists, pediatricians, epidemiologists and other experts warned that when fetuses and newborns encounter various toxic substances, growth of critical organs and functions can be skewed. In a process called "fetal programming," the children then are susceptible to diseases later in life - and perhaps could even pass on those altered traits to their children and grandchildren.

The scientists' statement also contained a rare international call to action. The effort was led by Dr. Philippe Grandjean of Harvard University and the University of Southern Denmark, and Dr. Pal Weihe of the Faroese Hospital System, who have spent more than 20 years studying children exposed to mercury.

Many governmental agencies and industry groups, particularly in the United States, have said there is no or little human evidence to support concerns about most toxic residue in air, water, food and consumer products. About 80,000 chemicals are registered in the United States.

Yet the scientists urged leaders not to wait for more scientific certainty and recommended that governments revise regulations and procedures to take into account subtle effects on fetal and infant development.
Chemicals with evidence of developmental effects include compounds in plastics, cosmetics and pesticides.
"Given the ubiquitous exposure to many environmental toxicants, there needs to be renewed efforts to prevent harm. Such prevention should not await detailed evidence on individual hazards," the scientists wrote in the four-page statement.