Developmental effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in wildlife and humans

Environ Health Perspect. 1993 Oct;101(5):378-84. doi: 10.1289/ehp.93101378.


Large numbers and large quantities of endocrine-disrupting chemicals have been released into the environment since World War II. Many of these chemicals can disturb development of the endocrine system and of the organs that respond to endocrine signals in organisms indirectly exposed during prenatal and/or early postnatal life; effects of exposure during development are permanent and irreversible. The risk to the developing organism can also stem from direct exposure of the offspring after birth or hatching. In addition, transgenerational exposure can result from the exposure of the mother to a chemical at any time throughout her life before producing offspring due to persistence of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in body fat, which is mobilized during egg laying or pregnancy and lactation. Mechanisms underlying the disruption of the development of vital systems, such as the endocrine, reproductive, and immune systems, are discussed with reference to wildlife, laboratory animals, and humans.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild*
  • Diethylstilbestrol / adverse effects
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / drug effects
  • Endocrine Glands / drug effects*
  • Endocrine Glands / growth & development
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Estrogens / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Risk Factors


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Estrogens
  • Diethylstilbestrol