Children especially vulnerable to chemical exposures: WHO
The World Health Organization (WHO) has released its first ever report highlighting children’s special susceptibility to harmful chemical exposures (July 2007). The report outlines the scientific principles to be considered in assessing health risks to children. It highlights the fact that in children, the stage in their development when exposure occurs may be just as important as the magnitude of the exposure.
The report assesses health risks to children at many stages of development, including the developing embryo, the fetus, infant and adolescent. It points out the different susceptibilities at different life stages. Developmental exposures prenatally and at birth may result in miscarriage, infant mortality, asthma, and neurobehavioural or immune impairment. In adolescents, the effects may be early or delayed puberty. The report also recognizes that emerging evidence suggests that increased risk of adult diseases including cancer and heart disease can result, in part, from exposures to certain environmental chemicals during childhood.