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Front Biosci (Elite Ed). 2011 Jan 1;3:690-700.

Endocrine disruptors, environmental oxygen, epigenetics and pregnancy.

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  • 1Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, Providence, RI, USA.


The placenta and its myriad functions are central to successful reproductive outcomes. These functions can be influenced by the environment encountered throughout pregnancy, thereby altering the appropriate genetic programming needed to allow for sustained pregnancy and appropriate fetal development. This altered programming may result from epigenetic alterations related to environmental exposures. Epigenetic alterations are now being linked to several important reproductive outcomes, including early pregnancy loss, intrauterine growth restriction, congenital syndromes, preterm birth, and preeclampsia. The diversity of environmental exposures linked to adverse reproductive effects continues to grow. Much attention has focused on the role of endocrine disruptors in infertility, but recent work suggests that these chemicals may also have adverse effects in pregnancy and development. Environmental oxygen is also critical in pregnancy success. There are clear links between altered oxygen levels and placentation amongst other effects. As research continues to enhance our understanding of the molecular processes including epigenetic regulation that influence pregnancy, it will be critical to specifically examine how the environment, broadly defined, may play a role in altering these critical functions.

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