WebMD website provides coverage of the link between common household chemicals and reproductive health problems, including early puberty and infertility. Drs. Linda C. Giudice and Tracey Woodruff of the UCSF Department of Obstretrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment are quoted extensively. Here are some excerpts. Link here for the entire article.
[. . .] Linda C. Giudice, MD, PhD, the chair of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, says that there is "increasing evidence that these contaminants may be playing a role in reproductive disorders."
Some, such as the controversial BPA, are known endocrine disruptors, which means they look or act like hormones in the body.
"We have begun to question whether exposures are affecting reproductive health, and the data are quite confirmatory," she says. "We don't really have a good handle on why certain chemicals may put African-American girls, for example, at risk for an earlier age of onset for puberty."
It's complex, Giudice says. "It is partly genetic and partly nutritional and there may also be other influences as well."
There is a lack of data on many of the chemicals used today, she says. "The absence of data does not mean they are safe." One of the group's issues with the TSCA is that it "grandfathered" in 62,000 chemicals without testing.
While studies linking chemicals to human health problems have been mixed, it is possible they have not captured the vulnerable period of exposure.
"They may have looked in the wrong place," she says. Going forward, a study by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development at the National Institutes of Health may provide some clarity. This study will follow chemical exposures among women from conception and pregnancy and track their children through puberty.
There are things that people can do today to lower their exposure levels if they are concerned, says Tracey Woodruff, PhD, MPH, an associate professor and director of University of California - San Francisco's Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment.
These chemicals and their residue can also be found in dust, so keeping the house clean can help lower exposure, Woodruff says.
Giudice routinely discusses these issues with her patients, but tries to frame it in a non-alarmist sort of way.
"We are very careful not to be alarming unless there are really strong data," says Giudice.
For example, the risks of mercury exposure during pregnancy are fairly well known, and women are counseled to limit their exposure during pregnancy by avoiding fish high in mercury.
"Most patients are very motivated as parents or potential parents and are very receptive on how to minimize their exposure and maximize their health during pregnancy and the health of their baby," she says. "We don't know when the exposure may occur and feeling guilty is not the thing we want to instill in these patients."
Additional coverage on this topic can be found at the Environmental Health and Women Director's Spotlight on this website.