International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics opinion on reproductive health impacts of exposure to toxic environmental chemicals

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2015 Dec;131(3):219-25. doi: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2015.09.002. Epub 2015 Oct 1.


Exposure to toxic environmental chemicals during pregnancy and breastfeeding is ubiquitous and is a threat to healthy human reproduction. There are tens of thousands of chemicals in global commerce, and even small exposures to toxic chemicals during pregnancy can trigger adverse health consequences. Exposure to toxic environmental chemicals and related health outcomes are inequitably distributed within and between countries; universally, the consequences of exposure are disproportionately borne by people with low incomes. Discrimination, other social factors, economic factors, and occupation impact risk of exposure and harm. Documented links between prenatal exposure to environmental chemicals and adverse health outcomes span the life course and include impacts on fertility and pregnancy, neurodevelopment, and cancer. The global health and economic burden related to toxic environmental chemicals is in excess of millions of deaths and billions of dollars every year. On the basis of accumulating robust evidence of exposures and adverse health impacts related to toxic environmental chemicals, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) joins other leading reproductive health professional societies in calling for timely action to prevent harm. FIGO recommends that reproductive and other health professionals advocate for policies to prevent exposure to toxic environmental chemicals, work to ensure a healthy food system for all, make environmental health part of health care, and champion environmental justice.

Keywords: Developmental health; Environmental chemicals; Reproductive environmental health; Toxic chemicals; Women's health.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding
  • Cost of Illness
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / prevention & control
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • International Agencies
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / prevention & control
  • Reproduction / drug effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors


  • Environmental Pollutants