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Syst Biol Reprod Med. 2010 Apr;56(2):184-200. doi: 10.3109/19396360903377195.

Reproductive toxicology and teratology of abused toluene.

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Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth & Development, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202, USA.


Toluene is an organic solvent that is widely used by industry and is ubiquitous in our environment. As a result, exposure to solvents like toluene in work-related settings (i.e., relatively constant, low-level exposures) or through inhalant abuse (i.e., relatively intermittent, high-level exposures) is increasing for many women of reproductive age. Evidence suggests that the risk for pregnancy problems, as well as developmental delays and neurobehavioral difficulties, is higher for the children of women who have been exposed to high concentrations of organic solvents during pregnancy than for those who have not. These risks appear to be higher in cases of abuse exposure to solvents such as toluene, particularly in comparison to the risk for teratogenic outcomes with occupational solvent exposure. Despite this, the reproductive toxicology and teratology following abuse of toluene and other inhalants remains under-investigated. This brief review describes the current state of our understanding of the reproductive and teratogenic risk of gestational toluene abuse. The data to date suggest that the high levels of toluene exposure typical with inhalant abuse are more detrimental to fetal development than typical occupational exposure, and preclinical paradigms can be beneficial for investigating the processes and risks of prenatal solvent exposure. While substantial research has been done on the reproductive effects of occupational exposures to organic solvents, more research is needed on the outcomes and mechanisms of exposures typical of inhalant abuse.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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