Rationale for Environmental Hygiene towards global protection of fetuses and young children from adverse lifestyle factors

Jean-Pierre Bourguignon*, Anne-Simone Parent, Jos C. S. Kleinjans, Tim S. Nawrot, Greet Schoeters, Nicolas Van Larebeke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The regulatory management of chemicals and toxicants in the EU addresses hundreds of different chemicals and health hazards individually, one by one. An issue is that, so far, the possible interactions among chemicals or hazards are not considered as such. Another issue is the anticipated delay of several decades before effective protection of public health by regulatory decisions due to a time consuming process. Prenatal and early postnatal life is highly vulnerable to environmental health hazards with lifelong consequences, and a priority period for reduction of exposure. There are some initiatives regarding recommendations for pregnant women aiming at protection against one or another category of health hazard, however not validated by intervention studies. Hypothesis: Here, we aim at strengthening the management of exposure to individual health hazards during pregnancy and lactation, with protective measures in a global strategy of Environmental Hygiene. We hypothesize that such a strategy could reduce both the individual effects of harmful agents in complex mixtures and the possible interactions among them. A panel of experts should develop and endorse implementable measures towards a protective behavior. Their application is meant to be preferably as a package of measures in order to maximize protection and minimize interactions in causing adverse effects. Testing our hypothesis requires biomonitoring studies and longitudinal evaluation of health endpoints in the offspring. Favorable effects would legitimate further action towards equal opportunity access to improved environmental health. Conclusion: Environmental Hygiene is proposed as a global strategy aiming at effective protection of pregnant women, unborn children and infants against lifelong consequences of exposure to combinations of adverse lifestyle factors.
Original languageEnglish
Article number42
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Health
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2018


  • Pregnancy
  • Mutagens
  • Endocrine disrupting chemicals
  • Carcinogens
  • Precautionary principle
  • Public health
  • Developmental origin of health and disease
  • RISK
  • Life Style
  • Humans
  • Child, Preschool
  • Infant
  • Environmental Health/methods
  • Fetus/physiology
  • Public Health/methods
  • Child
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Hygiene/standards
  • Environmental Exposure/prevention & control

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