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Review
. 2017 Mar;13(3):161-173.
doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2016.186. Epub 2016 Nov 18.

Early-life Exposure to EDCs: Role in Childhood Obesity and Neurodevelopment

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Free PMC article
Review

Early-life Exposure to EDCs: Role in Childhood Obesity and Neurodevelopment

Joseph M Braun. Nat Rev Endocrinol. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) might increase the risk of childhood diseases by disrupting hormone-mediated processes that are critical for growth and development during gestation, infancy and childhood. The fetus, infant and child might have enhanced sensitivity to environmental stressors such as EDCs due to their rapid development and increased exposure to some EDCs as a consequence of development-specific behaviour, anatomy and physiology. In this Review, I discuss epidemiological studies examining the relationship between early-life exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, triclosan and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) with childhood neurobehavioural disorders and obesity. The available epidemiological evidence suggest that prenatal exposure to several of these ubiquitous EDCs is associated with adverse neurobehaviour (BPA and phthalates) and excess adiposity or increased risk of obesity and/or overweight (PFAS). Quantifying the effects of EDC mixtures, improving EDC exposure assessment, reducing bias from confounding, identifying periods of heightened vulnerability and elucidating the presence and nature of sexually dimorphic EDC effects would enable stronger inferences to be made from epidemiological studies than currently possible. Ultimately, improved estimates of the causal effects of EDC exposures on child health could help identify susceptible subpopulations and lead to public health interventions to reduce these exposures.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflicts of Interest: The author has no conflicts of interest.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Conceptual diagram illustrating general mechanisms of endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) action and examples of specific biological targets relevant to childhood neurodevelopmental disorders and obesity
Figure 2
Figure 2
Directed acyclic graph for the relationship between early life PFAS exposure and child adiposity
Figure B1
Figure B1
Density Distribution of IQ in EDC Unexposed and Exposed Populations Figure B1 represents the distribution of IQ in two populations of one million individuals each. The grey line signifies the threshold for IQ scores consistent with intellectual disabilities (IQ<70). In the unexposed population, the mean IQ is 100 (standard deviation=15), while in the exposed population the mean IQ is 95 (standard deviation=15). This 5-point shift in IQ results in nearly a doubling in the proportion of people with IQ scores consistent with intellectual disabilities (IQ<70) in the exposed population (4.48%) compared to the unexposed population (2.27%).

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