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Effects of arsenic on younger generations.

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Department of Human Ecology, School of International Health, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, University of Tokyo, Japan.


Health risks caused by the chronic exposure to arsenic-contaminated groundwater has been recognized in many Asian and Latin American countries. While the health effects among adults have been well documented, those among the younger generations including children, infants, babies, and fetus have been scarcely reported. In this minireview, possible effects of chronic arsenic exposure on the younger generations are discussed in terms of skin manifestations among the children, exposure among newborns and infants especially from the breast milk, child growth and development, reproductive performance. For each of the topics, our preliminary results obtained in an arsenic-contaminated area in Bangladesh will be described, followed by a brief overview on the recent publications dealing with the topic. Although there exist some human data that suggest possible effects on some of the above-mentioned endpoints, the data as a whole is too premature to conclude whether the arsenic poses serious threat to younger generations or not. Considering the public health importance of toxic effects imposed during the early life stages, it is clear that much more scientific efforts should be made to elucidate the possible effects of arsenic on the younger generations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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