Paris/Brussels, 16 May 2012 – Exposure to environmental contaminants in the womb may result in many individuals being more susceptible to serious disease later in life, according to a consensus statement released at a scientific conference, which closes in Paris today.
The draft consensus statement represents the current outcome of the conference, “PPTox III, Environmental stressors in the developmental origins of disease: Evidence and Mechanisms”, 14-16 May 2012. The meeting was attended by over 250 participants, many of them leading researchers on early life exposures and diseases.(1) The statement highlights that nutritional imbalances, infections, stress, and exposure to chemicals, including contaminants in our environment, are all factors which can act on the child in the womb to increase its risk of future disease.
The statement entitled, “Developmental Origins of Non-Communicable Diseases and Dysfunctions: Implications for Research and Public Health”, was presented in the final session of the PPTox conference for comments from participants. Written by a group of international scientific experts (2), it describes how nutritional imbalance and exposure to certain chemicals during pre and postnatal development leads to disease in adults, including cancer and diabetes, and how prevention of the long term health impacts needs to be addressed.
Important points include:
Representatives from regulatory authorities and civil society organisations were called upon to consider the consensus statement in terms of their future EU and national policy and programme discussions. Robert Barouki, INSERM – Paris Descartes University and co-chair of the conference organizing committee said: “Scientific evidence is now available which wasn’t the case a few years ago. Nutritional imbalances or exposure to certain chemicals during the prenatal period could have consequences for health later in life. Although we don’t know the exact magnitude of the consequences, the science is there and is ripe for public action.”
Genon Jensen, Executive Director of the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) said five civil society groups (HEAL), Réseau Environnement Santé (RES), Générations Futures (GF), Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF), and CHEM Trust welcome and support the consensus statement. The health and environment civil society organisations plan to bring this call to the relevant discussions at EU level, including related to the revision of the EU strategy on EDCs, as well as to other relevant policy fora.
“The consensus statement provides important direction for future policy discussions and decisions on endocrine disrupting chemicals. It shows that more focus needs to be given to preventing harmful exposures during sensitive periods of human development. Up till now, despite the growing evidence of harm from EDCs, changes in regulatory action are happening so slowly as to be ineffective. We expect this important new statement to galvanize primary prevention rather than solely early detection and treatment,” she said. The consensus statement will be published as a commentary in the prestigious online publication Environmental Health (anticipated in early June 2012).
1. Details of the conference at http://www.toxicology.org/ai/meet/c…
2. The consensus statement was written by Robert Barouki, INSERM UMR-S 747, Université Paris Descartes, Paris 06, 75270 France; Peter D. Gluckman, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 01142, New Zealand; Philippe Grandjean, Environmental Medicine, University of Southern Denmark, 5000 Odense, Denmark; Mark Hanson, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02215, USA; University of Southampton, Mailpoint 887, Southampton General Hospital, SO16 6YD, UK; Jerrold J Heindel, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, P O Box 12233, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA. The draft consensus statement is open for comments from conference participants until 28 May 2012, and then will be open for signatories.
3. One reason for this conclusion is the substantial increase in incidence of many chronic diseases during the last 20-40 years, a time interval much too short to be attributable to genetic change.
Genon K. Jensen, Executive Director, Health & Environment Alliance (HEAL)
Tel: +32 2 234 3642, Email:
Yannick Vicaire, Réseau Environnement Santé (RES)
Mobile: +33 (0) 608 755 015, Email:
Lisette van Vliet, Senior Policy Advisor, Health & Environment Alliance (HEAL)
Tel: +32 2 234 36 45, Mobile: +32 484 614 528, Email:
Last updated on 31 May 2012