News » New Article Highlights Impacts of Environmental Exposures on Reproductive Health

New Article Highlights Impacts of Environmental Exposures on Reproductive Health

Nathaniel DeNicolaNathaniel DeNicola, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, co-authored a review article on environmental exposures on reproductive health and how OB-GYNs can work with their patients to ensure safe pregnancies. The authors highlight several chemical exposures found in various household products and food, like lead, mercury, and organophosphate pesticides, that scientific consensus has identified as contributors to neurodevelopmental disorders.

The piece is published in Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America.

Pregnancy, particularly during the fetal period, is one of the most critical times for human development. Any toxic exposure during that time can cause lasting damage to brain development and interfere with a child’s ability to reach his or her full potential. 

“OB-GYNs do not need to be experts in environmental health science to provide useful information to their patients,” DeNicola said. “Women’s health providers play a critical role in educating women on how to best protect their pregnancy.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine have identified robust scientific evidence over the last 25 years demonstrating that preconception and prenatal exposure to toxic environmental agents can have a profound and lasting effect on reproductive health.

“The goal of counseling is not to list ever possible toxic exposure,” said DeNicola. “The point is to inform patients about the common exposures, such as pesticides and other agents involved in food preparation, and to empower them to limit these exposures. Discussions between patients and their physicians focused on preventing future exposures rather than past exposures and possible implications may be the most productive way to determine what is best.”

The article was co-authored by Kelly McCue, MD, of The Permanente Medical Group.

To view the article, titled “Environmental Exposures in Reproductive Health,” visit