Evaluating chemical and other agent exosures for reproductive and developmental toxicity

Abigail E. Mitchell, Kulbir S. Bakshi, Carole A. Kimmel, Germaine M. Buck, Maureen H. Feuston, Paul M.D. Foster, J. M. Friedman, Joseph F. Holson, Claude L. Hughes, John A. Moore, Bernard A. Schwetz, Anthony R. Scialli, William J. Scott, Charles V. Vorhees, Barry R. Zirkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Reproductive disorders and developmental defects (including birth defects) are significant public health problems, with enormous personal and economic costs. Reproductive disorders may include altered menstrual and ovarian cycles, increased time to pregnancy, decreased sperm count, reduced libido, and infertility. Developmental defects may be manifested as prenatal and postnatal death, structural abnormalities (e.g., neural tube and heart defects), altered growth (e.g., low birth weight), and functional deficiencies (e.g., mental retardation). The known causes of reproductive and developmental disorders include genetic mutations; maternal metabolic imbalances; infection; and occupational, therapeutic, and environmental exposure to harmful chemical and physical agents. Concern regarding reproductive and developmental hazards in the workplace, including military facilities, has increased significantly in recent years. In 1997, Congress passed a law, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, concerning health care coverage for children with medical conditions caused by parental exposure to hazardous materials while serving as members of the Armed Services (Public Law 104-201, Section 704). The law states, in part, that a plan would be developed for ensuring the provision of medical care to any natural child of a member of the Armed Forces who has a congenital defect or catastrophic illness, proven to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty on the basis of scientific research to have resulted from exposure of the member to a chemical warfare agent or other hazardous material to which the member was exposed during active military service. The Department of Defense is required to develop a plan for compliance. As a part of its efforts to protect military and civilian personnel from reproductive and developmental hazards in the workplace, the Navy requested that the National Research Council (NRC) recommend an approach that can be used to evaluate sources of potential reproductive and developmental toxicity. The NRC assigned this project to the Committee on Toxicology, which convened the Subcommittee on Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology. The subcommittee was assigned the following tasks: • Develop a process for assessing the reproductive and developmental toxicity potential from exposures to chemicals and physical agents. • Develop a strategy for dealing with the potential reproductive and developmental toxicity of exposures to chemicals and physical agents for which little or no information is available. • Conduct pilot evaluations on two chemicals using the process developed by the subcommittee. • Identify reliable sources for assessment of reproductive and developmental toxicity. • Identify areas of needed research. In this report, the subcommittee recommends an approach to assess potential reproductive and developmental toxicity from exposures to substances encountered in workplaces operated by the U.S. Navy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1159-1314
Number of pages156
JournalJournal of Toxicology and Environmental Health - Part A
Issue number15-16
StatePublished - Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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