Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals' Effects in Children: What We Know and What We Need to Learn?

Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Oct 7;23(19):11899. doi: 10.3390/ijms231911899.


Thousands of natural or manufactured chemicals were defined as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) because they can interfere with hormone activity and the endocrine system. We summarize and discuss what we know and what we still need to learn about EDCs' pathogenic mechanisms of action, as well as the effects of the most common EDCs on endocrine system health in childhood. The MEDLINE database (PubMed) was searched on 13 May 2022, filtering for EDCs, endocrine diseases, and children. EDCs are a group of compounds with high heterogeneity, but usually disrupt the endocrine system by mimicking or interfering with natural hormones or interfering with the body's hormonal balance through other mechanisms. Individual EDCs were studied in detail, while humans' "cocktail effect" is still unclear. In utero, early postnatal life, and/or pubertal development are highly susceptible periods to exposure. Human epidemiological studies suggest that EDCs affect prenatal growth, thyroid function, glucose metabolism, obesity, puberty, and fertility through several mechanisms. Further studies are needed to clarify which EDCs can mainly act on epigenetic processes. A better understanding of EDCs' effects on human health is crucial to developing future regulatory strategies to prevent exposure and ensure the health of children today, in future generations, and in the environment.

Keywords: children; endocrine disruptors; exposure; hormone receptor; human health; pregnant women.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Endocrine Disruptors* / toxicity
  • Endocrine System
  • Female
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • Hormones / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Puberty / metabolism


  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Hormones
  • Glucose

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.