Background: Worrying trends regarding human reproductive endpoints (e.g. semen quality, reproductive cancers) have been reported and there is growing circumstantial evidence for a possible causal link between these trends and exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). However, there is a striking lack of human data to fill the current knowledge gaps. To answer the crucial questions raised on human reproductive health, there is an urgent need for a reproductive surveillance system to be shared across countries.
Methods: A multidisciplinary network named HUman Reproductive health and Global ENvironment Network (HURGENT) was created aiming at designing a European monitoring system for reproductive health indicators. Collaborative work allowed setting up the available knowledge to design such a system. Furthermore we conducted an overview of 23 potential indicators, based upon a weight of evidence (WoE) approach according to their potential relation with EDC exposure.
Results: The framework and purposes of the surveillance system are settled as well as the approach to select suitable reproductive indicators. The indicators found with the highest scores according to the WoE approach are prostate and breast cancer incidence, sex ratio, endometriosis and uterine fibroid incidence, indicators related to the testicular dysgenesis syndrome, precocious puberty incidence and reproductive hormone levels.
Conclusion: Not only sentinel health endpoints, but also diseases with high burdens in public health are highlighted as prior indicators in the context of EDC exposure. Our work can serve as a basis to construct, as soon as possible, the first multi-country reproductive monitoring system.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Public Health Association. All rights reserved.