External Research
How Toxic Pollutants Can Harm Future, Unexposed Generations
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By Sonya Lunder, MPH, Senior Analyst

Thursday, July 13, 2017
In the last decade, studies by EWG and other researchers have firmly established that toxic chemicals can pass from pregnant women to fetuses through the umbilical cord, affecting children's future health and development. Now a growing body of research shows that some chemicals may alter gene function in ways that can be passed on not only to the immediate offspring, but also to grandchildren and perhaps even great-grandchildren. The impact of toxic chemicals on generations of offspring with no direct exposure to the contaminant is known as a transgenerational effect. Increasingly, scientists find that short-term exposures during pregnancy to some chemicals can cause reproductive system damages, alter body weight, and even increase the risk of cancer for great-grandchildren of exposed animals.