Chemical defects ‘last generations’
Scientists believe they have got shown exposure to certain chemicals inside the womb could cause changes which are undergone generations.
There isn’t any firm evidence of this in humans, but Washington State University research showed a transparent effect in rats.
They isolated defects associated with kidney and ovary disease and even obesity.
The work implicates a category of chemicals present in certain plastics, in addition to one present in jet fuel.
The idea of “epigenetics” – that folks don’t just pass their genes to their children, but subtle differences within the way those genes operate – is among the fastest growing areas of scientific study.
The work of Dr Michael Skinner centres across the effects that certain chemicals could have on these processes, if the feminine is exposed at key points while pregnant.
So far they have got documented measureable effects from a number of environmental pollutants including pesticides, fungicides, dioxins and hydrocarbons.
However, they stress that the effects aren’t directly transferable to humans yet, because the levels of chemicals used at the rats were normally more concentrated than anything a man would experience in normal life.
There is not any data on even how an animal would respond at different doses, and no clues as to how the chemicals are causing these changes.
The studies, published within the journals PLoS One and Reproductive Toxicology, checked out the impact of phthalates, chemicals present in some varieties of plastics, and a substance called JP8, present in jet fuel.
Rats exposed to phthalates had offspring with higher rates of kidney and prostate disease, and their great-grandchildren had more disease of the testicles, ovaries and obesity.
Female rats exposed to the hydrocarbon JP8 on the point in pregnancy when their male foetuses were developing gonads had babies with more prostate and kidney abnormalities, and their great-grandchildren had reproductive anomalies, polycystic ovary disease and obesity.
Dr Skinner said: “Your great-grandmother’s exposures while pregnant could cause disease in you, once you had no exposure.
“This can be a non-genetic sort of inheritance not involving DNA sequence, but environmental impacts on DNA chemical modifications.
“It truly is the 1st study to expose the epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of disease akin to obesity.”
Andreas Kortenkamp, professor of human toxicology at Brunel University, said the outcomes were “potentially very interesting”, but a lot more work would have to be executed before any impact on humans can be considered.
He said: “That’s an exploratory study, however the authors themselves are clear that the knowledge don’t allow the potential risk to people to be assessed.”
“There’s a currently an absence of data in regards to the dose-response relationship, and at this stage we’re very unsure in regards to the mechanisms which are involved.”