Karin Russ, MS, RN, CHE’s Fertility and Reproductive Health Working Group Coordinator
Years ago, I was a nurse caring for a patient who had just had her sixth miscarriage. She was, as one might expect, emotionally devastated and searching for answers as to why this might have happened. At the time, some potential physiological causes were examined, but environmental factors were not considered.
As CHE celebrates its 10th anniversary, significant progress has been made toward educating professionals and the public on environmental contributors to infertility, early pregnancy loss, and impacts on the developing fetus. Since CHE’s early years, the Fertility and Reproductive Health Working Group has sought to bring attention to the growing body of research linking environmental factors to problems with reproductive health. In the male, many environmental agents are associated with decreased sperm quality and increased risk of prostate cancer. Women are more susceptible to endometriosis, polycystic ovary disease, and problems with in vitro fertilization following exposure to some environmental chemicals. A substantial body of scientific literature demonstrates the crucial nature of fetal environmental exposures on developmental origins of adult health and disease.