Environmental influences on reproductive health: the importance of chemical exposures

Fertil Steril. 2016 Sep 15;106(4):905-29. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.07.1076. Epub 2016 Aug 9.


Chemical exposures during pregnancy can have a profound and life-long impact on human health. Because of the omnipresence of chemicals in our daily life, there is continuous contact with chemicals in food, water, air, and consumer products. Consequently, human biomonitoring studies show that pregnant women around the globe are exposed to a variety of chemicals. In this review we provide a summary of current data on maternal and fetal exposure, as well as health consequences from these exposures. We review several chemical classes, including polychlorinated biphenyls, perfluoroalkyl substances, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, phenols, phthalates, pesticides, and metals. Additionally, we discuss environmental disparities and vulnerable populations, and future research directions. We conclude by providing some recommendations for prevention of chemical exposure and its adverse reproductive health consequences.

Keywords: Chemical; environmental chemical; environmental exposure; pregnancy; reproductive health.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Body Burden
  • Endocrine Disruptors / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Fetus / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Maternal Exposure / prevention & control
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Paternal Exposure / adverse effects
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Education
  • Reproduction / drug effects*
  • Reproductive Health*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors


  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Environmental Pollutants