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 October 05, 2015
Children who are born 'pre-polluted.'

 Chemicals to which people are daily expos ed have health effects become more apparent. This is the meaning of the alert published Thursday 1 October in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO). It emphasizes the responsibility of certain pollutants of the environment in fertility disorders and highlights the urgency for action to reduce exposure to pesticides, air pollutants, food plastics (bisphenol A, phthalates ...) solvents, etc.

This is the first time that an organization of reproductive health experts talks about the harmful effects of these pollutants in the food chain and in professional or home environment. A call supported by NGO Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) and Health & Environment Alliance (Heal).

The position paper FIGO - comprising 125 company s National Gynecology and Obstetrics - is similar to that published two days earlier, the Endocrine Society. For this learned society that brings together 18,000 researchers and clinicians in the study of the hormonal system, environmental pollutants exposure is also involved in several emerging diseases: type 2 diabetes, obesity, hormone-dependent cancers (breast , prostate, thyroid) and neurobehavioral disorders (attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, etc.).

Worrying observation

After the publication in 2012 of the report of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), these two new publications dig a little more the gap between the state of knowledge and that of regulation. This still does not recognize the existence of certain substances - so-called "endocrine disruptors." - Capable of interfering with the hormone system and act at very low exposure levels below regulatory thresholds "Almost 800 environmental chemicals are known or suspected of interfering with hormone receptors, the synthesis or conversion of hormones ", already highlighted in 2012, the report of the WHO and UNEP.

"Exposure to toxic chemicals during pregnancy or breastfeeding is ubiquitous," notes FIGO, which is concerned that "the United States, a pregnant woman would average at least contaminated 43 different chemicals. "

The effects of these exposures in utero or infants also affect subsequent fertility of individuals. In France, about 15% of couples of child-bearing potential consulting for infertility, according to a report recently from the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) and the French Biomedicine Agency on fertility disorders . And the number of couples who resort to assisted reproduction techniques continues to grow, "very likely due to environmental changes, including exposure to certain toxins such as tobacco and / or certain endocrine disruptors".

In the consultations, the situation is worrying. "Over recent years we have seen an upsurge in polycystic ovary syndrome, a leading cause of infertility, endometriosis, which affects women more and more young people, and sperm quality has collapsed, "said Richard Benhamou, obstetrician gynecologist specializing in infertility, installed since 1985. While the tobacco and alcohol are very harmful for pregnant women and for fertility, but" the role of the invisible environment is crucial, "warns Dr. Benhamou.

"The evidence of health damage of endocrine disruptors are more definitive than ever, says Andrea Gore, professor of pharmacology at the University of Texas at Austin, who chaired the group of scientists responsible for drafting the declaration of the Endocrine Society. Hundreds of studies point in the same direction, whether epidemiological studies conducted on long-term human, studies on animals or on cells, or on groups of people exposed to in their profession specific products. "

Rising pathologies

The report of the Endocrine Society is the second of its kind. Since 2009, the learned society had gathered the evidence available in the literature and reported his concerns. This new edition reinforces the previous conclusion. "In particular, since 2009, the evidence of the link between exposure to endocrine disruptors and metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes, have accumulated, alerts the biologist Ana Soto (Tufts Boston University, Normal University), co-author of the previous version of the report. And it must be noted that nothing of what was advanced in 2009 has had to be removed or downgraded. Everything we suspected at the time was confirmed by the most recent work. "

The share taken by exposure to toxic chemicals in the increased incidence of certain disorders or diseases - obesity, breast cancer, prostate cancer, etc. - Can not be precisely quantified. But the learned society recalls that these pathologies, linked to the disruption of the hormonal system, are all worrying rise. In the US, 35% of the population is obese and half are diabetic or prediabetic.

Coincidence, Pesticide Action Network (PAN Europe), an NGO based in Brussels, recalled at the end of September, a dozen pesticides categorized as endocrine disruptors by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) were currently examined by the European Commission to be allowed or réautorisés on the European market. At present, there is no strict regulatory definition of these substances: the EU executive would later establish such a definition in December 2013, but collapsed under the pressures of the industry and has postponed sine die measurement.