Fetal exposure to endocrine disruptors linked to genital defect in boys

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Hypospadias is a birth defect in which the opening of the urethra (tube that drains urine) is on the underside of the penis instead of at the tip. This type of birth defect is the second most common malformation for males and is suspected to be the caused in part by fetal exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals by preventing testosterone production in the fetus leading to an increase in genital malformations. A recent study published in the journal European Urology suggests that maternal and paternal exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals may increase the chance of hypospadias in male children. The study examined 300 patients diagnosed with hypospadias and 302 control participants.  All participants ranged from newborn to 12 years of age. A standardized questionnaire was used to evaluate both maternal and paternal exposures to endocrine disruptors including the type of exposure, type of products, timing of exposure, and frequency of product use. Results demonstrated that mothers frequently exposed to endocrine disruptors at work were more likely to give birth to boys with hypospadias than the control participants. They also found that paternal exposure to endocrine disruptors around the time of fertilization was also associated with hypospadias. The authors conclude that this study “strongly suggests that endocrine disrupting chemicals through occupational, professional, and environmental exposure during fetal life are a risk factor for hypospadias.”