Emerging scientific evidence suggests that exposure to environmental pollutants is associated with negative effects on fecundity as measured by time to pregnancy (TTP).
To conduct a systematic review of the literature on the association between selected endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), and fecundity as measured by TTP in humans. Compounds included in this review are: brominated flame retardants (BFRs) such as hexabromocyclododecane, tetrabromobiphenol A and polybrominated diphenyl ethers; organophosphates flame retardants (OPFRs); and phthalates.
Scopus, MEDLINE via Ebscohost and EMBASE databases were searched for articles exploring the relationships between selected EDCs and fecundity as measured by time to pregnancy. We assessed the quality of included studies and evidence for causality was graded using the criteria developed by the World Cancer Research Fund.
14 studies of 191 full-text articles assessed for eligibility were included for qualitative synthesis. Five studies examined BFRs and 10 studies examined phthalates. Among the fourteen, one study assessed both BFRs and phthalates. There were no studies which investigated fecundity as measured by TTP on HBCD, TBBPA, or OPFRs. We recorded plausible fecundity outcomes as measured by TTP related to some of these EDCs. BFRs or phthalates increased TTP. However, results were inconsistent.
We recorded mostly weak associations between exposure to selected EDCs and fecundity. However, evidence was considered limited to conclude a causal relationship due to inconsistency of results. The health risks posed by these chemicals in exposed populations are only beginning to be recognized and prospective measurement of the environmental effects of the chemicals in large cohort studies are urgently needed to confirm these relationships and inform policies aimed at exposure prevention