Environmental exposures, toxicologic mechanisms, and adverse pregnancy outcomes

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2005 May;192(5 Suppl):S11-21. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2004.06.117.


Environmental risk factors (defined as those agents and stresses that are generally the responsibility of environmental agencies) are often tangible indicators of economic and social disparity in the United States. Many site-specific analyses have reported that communities of color and poverty are exposed more often and more intensively to such environmental hazards as lead, air pollution, agrochemicals, incinerator emissions, and releases from hazardous waste sites. Thus, exposures to these toxicants may explain part of the socioeconomic disparity that is observed in terms of risks of adverse pregnancy outcomes. The purpose of this study was to describe the associations between certain environmental exposures and reproductive outcomes through a discussion of both epidemiologic and animal model studies. In addition, we list potential sources of exposure data and describe physiologic changes in pregnancy that may increase the likelihood of both external exposures and increased internal dose. Several models for further study of environmental risk factors are suggested to increase our understanding of gene-environment interactions toward the goal of indentifying preventable risk factors to improve reproductive outcomes of particular concern to disadvantaged populations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Fetus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Organogenesis / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Research
  • Risk Factors


  • Environmental Pollutants