Review of the Effects of Perinatal Exposure to Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals in Animals and Humans

  • William Nelson
  • Ying-Xiong Wang
  • Gloria Sakwari
  • Yu-Bin Ding
Part of the Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology book series (RECT, volume 251)


Maternal exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) is associated with long-term hormone-dependent effects that are sometimes not revealed until maturity, middle age, or adulthood. The aim of this study was to conduct descriptive reviews on animal experimental and human epidemiological evidence of the adverse health effects of in utero and lactational exposure to selected EDCs on the first generation and subsequent generation of the exposed offspring. PubMed, Web of Science, and Toxline databases were searched for relevant human and experimental animal studies on 29 October 29 2018. Search results were screened for relevance, and studies that met the inclusion criteria were evaluated and qualitative data extracted for analysis. The search yielded 73 relevant human and 113 animal studies. Results from studies show that in utero and lactational exposure to EDCs is associated with impairment of reproductive, immunologic, metabolic, neurobehavioral, and growth physiology of the exposed offspring up to the fourth generation without additional exposure. Little convergence is seen between animal experiments and human studies in terms of the reported adverse health effects which might be associated with methodologic challenges across the studies. Based on the available animal and human evidence, in utero and lactational exposure to EDCs is detrimental to the offspring. However, more human studies are necessary to clarify the toxicological and pathophysiological mechanisms underlying these effects.


EDCs Endocrine Endocrine-disrupting chemicals Endocrine disruption Health effects Immunological Maternal exposure Mechanism Metabolic Neurological Obesity Offspring Perinatal exposure Reproductive 



Anogenital distance


Benzyl butyl phthalate


Bisphenol A


Dibutyl phthalate






Di (2-ethyhexyl) phthalate


Endocrine-disrupting chemicals


Estrogen receptor




Gestational day




Intelligent quotient


Monocarboxyisononyl phthalate


No observed adverse effect levels




Neural tube defect




Polybrominated biphenyl


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers


Polychlorinated biphenyls


Perfluoroalkyl substances


Postnatal day




Tributyltin chloride




Triphenyltin chloride





This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2018YFC1004401) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 81671493).

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Nelson
    • 1
  • Ying-Xiong Wang
    • 1
  • Gloria Sakwari
    • 2
  • Yu-Bin Ding
    • 1
  1. 1.Joint International Research Laboratory of Reproductive and Development, Department of Reproductive Biology, School of Public HealthChongqing Medical UniversityChongqingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, School of Public Health and Social SciencesMuhimbili University of Health and Allied SciencesDar es salaamTanzania

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