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Last Edited: 7/9/03

Reproductive Outcomes

Broadly interpreted, reproductive outcomes usually include pregnancy outcomes, effects on fetal development, and damage to the reproductive system of the adult. Thus miscarriage, birth defects, or infertility might fall into this category. The occurrence of adverse reproductive outcomes is of fundamental concern to the individuals and families involved. This may be exacerbated if those affected perceive they are living or working in areas with potential exposure to hazardous agents over which they have little or no control. Animal studies and accidental mass releases have revealed a variety of effects from a number of chemical exposures, but relatively little research has been consistently conducted on these outcomes in humans until recently.

Due to the relatively short latency from exposure until the outcome is manifested, as well as the increased sensitivity of the developing fetus, these outcomes may serve as sentinels for identifying environmental hazards. If workers or community residents are protected from exposures that are harmful to the fetus, they will usually be protected from other health effects associated with these exposures. EHIB staff conduct a number of studies of reproductive outcomes in relation to community concerns as well as initiating research on suspected toxicants. These include for example, studies of effects of exposure to water chlorination by-products, environmental tobacco smoke, solvents and hazardous waste; on outcomes such as miscarriage, low birth weight, menstrual function, and sperm quality.

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