Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC) are a class of exogenous chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system, including perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), phthalates, and phenols such as bisphenol
Such substances are not only commonly found in environments such as water and air, but are also widely found in a variety of consumer products
For example, PFAS in U.
tap water has been discussed; while phthalates are widely found in plastic products
In recent years, many studies have pointed out that EDC may endanger human health by affecting the endocrine system
Another concern for scientists is that these substances can be passed to the baby through the placenta and breast milk, which may harm the development of the newborn's nervous system
However, there has been a problem with EDC research for a long time: previous research has focused on the effects of a certain EDC on the human body
But the reality is that due to the widespread presence of multiple EDCs in the environment and daily necessities, what we often encounter is not a single EDC, but a mixture of EDCs
Therefore, these studies based on EDC alone are not sufficient to effectively assess the actual situation, and our understanding of the health hazards of EDC mixtures (especially the effects of prolonged exposure to EDC mixtures during pregnancy on offspring) is very limited
Now, a new study published in Science proposes a new research framework for assessing the combined health effects of EDC blends
In this way, this study is the first to suggest that exposure to EDC mixtures during pregnancy may lead to delayed language development in offspring
The EU-funded project, called 'EDC-MixRisk' (EDC-MixRisk), involved scientists from several European research institutes
EDC-MixRisk consists of three main steps:
First, the research team tested 1874) pregnant women's blood and urine for a mixture of EDCs (including various phthalates, bisphenol A, and perfluorinated compounds described at the beginning) and compared the results with their offspring at the age of two and a half.
delayed language development was linked;
Subsequently, from the laboratory organoid and animal model studies), the research team revealed which molecular targets of the EDC mixture interfered with the regulation of the endocrine circuit, and how it led to the dysregulation of the expression of genes related to autism and intellectual disability.
In the end, these laboratory-derived findings were used by the research team to develop new methods for assessing the risk of mixtures
▲The picture shows the comprehensive framework in this study (picture source: Reference )
In early pregnancy, the right concentration of thyroid hormone is essential for the growth and development of the brain, therefore, the EDC mixture is likely to cause the delay of neonatal language development through its effect on thyroid hormone
The study cautions that 54% of pregnant women in the study, who were exposed to worrying levels of EDC mixture concentrations, had a 2.
3-fold increased risk of language delay in their offspring
▲Schematic diagram of the experimental process (picture source: Reference )
It can be said that this study shows us the importance of considering multiple compounds comprehensively, and also provides a feasible comprehensive framework for risk assessment
In the future, these studies will provide better protection for the health of pregnant women and newborns
 Nicolò Caporale et al.
, BFrom cohorts to molecules: Adverse impacts of endocrine disrupting mixtures.
Science (2022) DOI: 10.
 Animangsu Ghatak, How does a lizard shed its tail? Science (2022) DOI: 10.
 More chemicals, fewer words: exposure to chemical mixtures during pregnancy alters brain development.
17, 2022 from https:// abridged)