Exposure to environmental endocrine disruptors and child development

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012 Oct;166(10):952-8.


Exposure to exogenous chemicals can affect endocrine function at multiple sites and through numerous specific modes of action, which may have far-reaching effects on human health and development. Widespread human exposure to known or suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) has been documented in the United States and worldwide, as have trends for increased rates of endocrine-related diseases and disorders among children. While human epidemiology studies of exposure to EDCs and children's health remain extremely limited, a growing body of evidence shows that exposure to a number of chemicals commonly found in consumer goods, personal care products, food, drinking water, and other sources may adversely affect child development through altered endocrine function. This narrative review provides a brief introduction to several common EDCs (with a specific focus on persistent organic pollutants, phthalates, bisphenol A, and contemporary-use pesticides, which represent only a small number of all known or suspected EDCs), an overview of the state of the human evidence for adverse effects of EDCs on child development (fetal growth, early reproductive tract development, pubertal development, neurodevelopment, and obesity), guidance for health care providers based on current knowledge, and recommendations for future research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Benzhydryl Compounds / toxicity
  • Child
  • Child Development / drug effects*
  • Developmental Disabilities / chemically induced
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / chemically induced
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects
  • Obesity / chemically induced
  • Pesticides / toxicity
  • Phenols / toxicity
  • Phthalic Acids / toxicity
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth / chemically induced
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced
  • Puberty / drug effects
  • United States
  • Urogenital Abnormalities / chemically induced


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Pesticides
  • Phenols
  • Phthalic Acids
  • bisphenol A