Rationale for Environmental Hygiene towards global protection of foetuses and young children from adverse lifestyle factors

The regulatory management of chemicals and toxicants in the EU addresses hundreds of different chemicals and health hazards individually, one by one. An issue is that, so far, the possible interactions among chemicals or hazards are not considered as such. Another issue is the anticipated delay of several decades before effective protection of public health by regulatory decisions due to a time-consuming process. Prenatal and early postnatal life is highly vulnerable to environmental health hazards with lifelong consequences and a priority period for reduction of exposure. There are some initiatives regarding recommendations for pregnant women aiming at protection against one or another category of health hazard, however not validated by intervention studies. This study aims at strengthening the management of exposure to individual health hazards during pregnancy and lactation, with protective measures in a global strategy of Environmental Hygiene. The authors hypothesise that such a strategy could reduce both the individual effects of harmful agents in complex mixtures and the possible interactions among them. A panel of experts should develop and endorse implementable measures towards a protective behaviour. Their application is meant to be preferably as a package of measures in order to maximise protection and minimise interactions in causing adverse effects. Testing the hypothesis requires biomonitoring studies and longitudinal evaluation of health endpoints in the offspring. Favourable effects would legitimate further action towards equal opportunity access to improved environmental health. Environmental Hygiene is proposed as a global strategy aiming at effective protection of pregnant women, unborn children and infants against lifelong consequences of exposure to combinations of adverse lifestyle factors.

Authors: Bourguignon JP, Parent AS, Kleinjans JCS, Nawrot TS, Schoeters G, Van Larebeke N. ; Full Source: Environmental Health. 2018 Apr 23;17(1):42. doi: 10.1186/s12940-018-0385-y.

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