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Curr Epidemiol Rep. 2016 Jun;3(2):161-180. doi: 10.1007/s40471-016-0073-9. Epub 2016 Mar 31.

Racial/ethnic disparities in environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals and women's reproductive health outcomes: epidemiological examples across the life course.

Author information

1
Departments of Environmental Health and Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, U.S.
2
Division of Women's Health, Department of Medicine, Connors Center for Women's Health and Gender Biology, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02120, U.S.
3
Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, U.S.
4
Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, U.S.
5
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, George Washington University, Milken Institute School of Public Health, Washington, DC, 20052, U.S.

Abstract

Disparities in women's reproductive health outcomes across the life course have been well-documented. Endocrine disrupting chemicals may be one factor driving disparities, as studies suggest exposure to certain environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals, such as certain phthalates, bisphenol A, parabens and polybrominated diphenyl ethers are higher in non-whites. Yet, a limited amount of research has focused on these chemical exposures as a potential mediator of racial/ethnic differences in women's reproductive health outcomes, such as pubertal development, fibroids, infertility, and pregnancy complications. Given that race/ethnicity is a social construct, the purpose of this review was to present the current state of the literature on racial/ethnic disparities in both environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals, as well as associations between these chemicals and selected women's reproductive health outcomes. Our goal was to evaluate literature from populations based in the United States to: 1) characterize racial/ethnic differences in environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals and 2) systematically review literature on environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals and selected women's health outcomes in populations containing more than one racial/ethnic group. This review highlights the need for future work in determining whether higher exposures to some environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals might partly explain differences in women's reproductive health outcomes in these higher-exposure and high-risk groups.

KEYWORDS:

Race; and women’s health; endocrine disruptors; ethnicity

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