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Human Reproduction and environment

Published on 09/12/2014

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Human reproduction disorders are very diverse and the concept of reproductive health is gaining ground to encompass the whole landscape they are drawing.

According to WHO, reproductive health includes fertility, but also the processes, functions and reproductive systems at all stages of life. It encompasses therefore the reproductive organs pathologies including cancers and urogenital malformations, biological characteristics (level of reproductive hormones) and trans-generational reproductive effects.
Low doses environmental exposures may have important biological effects when they happen at certain stages of life development, for example when the body or the cells of an organ grow rapidly: embryonic and fetal life, infancy, puberty. According to the concept of the Developmental Origins of Health and Diseases (DOHaD), an impact on health is possible in the short term, but also in adulthood.
Regarding human reproduction, early exposure to low-dose endocrine disruptors - chemicals that interfere with endocrine functions - is suspected to disrupt the development of male genital organs. An impact on female reproduction is also suspected.

Exposure to endocrine disruptors is particularly suspected to be involved in the testicular dysgenesis syndrome (TDS). This syndrome includes three main components: urogenital malformations in boys, testicular cancer and decreased sperm quality in men.

This thematic file presents InVS work focused on human -male and female- reproduction disorders, as well as prospects in terms of surveillance.

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