Fetal toxicology

Margot van de Bor*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Toxic chemicals, either from natural sources or man-made, are ubiquitous in our environment. Many of the synthetic chemicals make life more comfortable and therefore production continues to grow. Simultaneously with the increase in production, an increase in neurodevelopmental disorders has been observed. Some chemicals are not biodegradable or have a very long half-life time and, despite the fact that production of a number of those chemicals has been severely reduced, they are still ubiquitous in the environment. Fetal exposure to toxic chemicals is dependent on maternal exposure to those chemicals and the developing stage of the fetus. Human evidence from epidemiologic studies is described with regard to the effect of prenatal exposure to various groups of neurotoxicants (alcohol, particulate fine matter, metals, and endocrine disrupting chemicals) on neurobehavior development. Data indicate that prenatal exposure to alcohol, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, lead, methylmercury (MeHg), organophosphate pesticides (OPPs), and polychlorinated biphenyl ethers (PBDEs) impair cognitive development, whereas exposure to alcohol, MeHg, organochlorine pesticides and OPPs, polychlorinated biphenyls, PBDEs, and bisphenol A increases the risk of developing either attention deficit/hyperactivity and/or autism spectrum disorders. Psychomotor development appears to be less affected. However, data are not conclusive, which may depend on the assessment of exposure and the exposure level, among other factors.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Clinical Neurology
PublisherElsevier Science B.V.
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameHandbook of Clinical Neurology
ISSN (Print)0072-9752
ISSN (Electronic)2212-4152

Bibliographical note

Part of volume: Neonatal Neurology. Edited by Linda S. de Vries, Hannah C. Glass


  • Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Cognition
  • Developing brain
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Neurotoxicants

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