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Rev Environ Health. 2012;27(4):151-7.

Special vulnerability of children to environmental exposures.

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University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland,Australia.


Fetal life and childhood are the periods most vulnerable to the harmful effects of exposure to environmental insults. This is because, during these periods, there is rapid cell division,organs are being formed, and growth is rapid. Thus, disruption of these processes may result in life-long abnormalities.Of particular concern are exposures that alter cognitive function and behavior, but exposures that alter growth, development,and reproductive and immune system function and that may increase risk of development of diseases like cancer later in life are also especially important. Exposure to environmental chemicals as well as infectious agents occurs via air, food,water, and absorption through the skin. Therefore, the environment in which fetal and childhood development occurs is very important. Unfortunately, poverty is a major risk factor for both exposures and childhood and later-life disease resulting from exposures to both environmental chemicals and infectious agents. It is very important to protect children because they are the future generation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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