Although experimental studies have well established the adverse effects of toxic agents on fetal development, the list of agents affecting human development has been quite short (Schardein, 2000, Shepard, 2004). The difficulty of defining adequate research methods includes the certainty and measures of exposures, the timing of exposures during pregnancy and the possibility of differing genetic susceptibility of the study subjects.

In the Baltimore Washington Infant Study (BWIS) potentially harmful environmental exposures were considered as substances used in parental life style, such as alcohol, cigarette and recreational drugs, and environmental agents encountered in occupations, home use, or vocational activities. The three major suspected potential teratogens were organic solvents, pesticides and lead and other heavy metals.

Organic solvent exposure was derived from the use of lacquers, paints, varnishes and degreasing agents. Associations with a 2 to 6-fold excess were found for several anatomic diagnostic groups. This is consistent with the reports of other investigators. Additionally the search for genetic variations has revealed possible alterations in the genotypes of solvent metabolizing enzymes (Loffredo,1996).

Selected References