Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals in Human Fetal Growth

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Feb 20;21(4):1430. doi: 10.3390/ijms21041430.


Fetal growth is regulated by a complex interaction of maternal, placental, and fetal factors. The effects and outcomes that chemicals, widely distributed in the environment, may have on the health status of both the mother and the fetus are not yet well defined. Mainly mixtures of chemical substances are found in the mothers and placenta. Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can be associated with fetal growth retardation, thyroid dysfunction, and neurological disorders. EDCs mostly interfere with insulin, glucocorticoid, estrogenic, and thyroid pathways, with subsequent effects on normal endocrine and metabolic functions, which cause changes in the epigenome and state of inflammation with life-long effects and consequences. International scientific societies recommend the implementation of research and of all possible preventive measures. This review briefly summarizes all these aspects.

Keywords: birth weight; developmental origins of health and disease (DOHAD); endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs); fetal growth restriction (FGR); intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR); placenta; postnatal outcomes; pregnancy; preterm birth; small for gestational age (SGA).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Endocrine Disruptors / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Fetal Development / drug effects*
  • Fetal Growth Retardation* / chemically induced
  • Fetal Growth Retardation* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Nervous System Diseases* / chemically induced
  • Nervous System Diseases* / embryology
  • Nervous System Diseases* / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Thyroid Diseases* / chemically induced
  • Thyroid Diseases* / embryology
  • Thyroid Diseases* / metabolism


  • Endocrine Disruptors