Unborn children better protected against endocrine disruptors

Thursday 23 Aug 18


Sofie Christiansen
Senior Researcher
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 70 25

Researchers from the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, have helped improve on international testing of chemicals to enable better detection of endocrine disrupting substances.

In order to ensure that chemicals are classified and labelled properly, it is important that manufacturers test the chemicals for possible health effects. As the volume that is produced of a chemical increases, the testing requirements within the EU chemical legislation, REACH, become more stringent. 

Further protection against endocrine disrupting effects

The OECD’s Test Guideline Programme, TGP, develops internationally recognized standard test methods for safety testing of chemicals. Senior researcher Sofie Christiansen from the National Food Institute has been one of TGP’s two national coordinators in Denmark since 2010, while the other coordinator is a staff member from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency.

In the last few years, Sofie Christiansen has been in charge of work under the auspices of TGP aimed at improving test guideline number 414, which investigates birth defects in rat fetuses caused by chemical exposure. Behind the improvements are many years of research at the National Food Institute, work that has been important for the OECD's acceptance of the changes.

The OECD adopted the improved guideline during spring 2018 and published it on their website in the summer of 2018. The test now includes an examination of the distance between anus and genitals (anogenital distance) and a more thorough study of genital deformities in the fetuses as well as the mothers’ thyroid hormones.

As such, the test detects more endocrine disrupting substances, thereby providing more knowledge about possible endocrine disrupting effects without using more test animals than is already required. 

Nordic cooperation

In the work on test guideline number 414, Denmark has received input from colleagues in the other Nordic countries. By joining forces, the Nordic countries can influence the international chemicals legislation to some extent, which otherwise would have been difficult for small countries to achieve on their own.

Both the Nordic Chemical Group under the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Danish Environmental Protection Agency have supported the revision of test guideline 414 (Prenatal Development Toxicity Study).

Read more 

The updated test guideline 414 is available on the OECD’s website.

The overall ambition of the Research Group for Molecular and Reproductive Toxicology at the National Food Institute is to prevent diseases, which can occur, when people are exposed to chemical substances through foods or the environment. Read about the group’s research on the institute’s website

Read about the group’s work to ensure human health through the most efficient use of as few test animals as possible in an article from the Danish 3R-Center’s annual report 2017.


The OECD Guidelines are a unique tool for assessing the potential effects of chemicals on human health and the environment. They are used by professionals in industry, academia and government, who are involved in the testing and assessment of chemicals (industrial chemicals, pesticides, personal care products, etc.).

The Guidelines are regularly updated with the assistance of thousands of national experts from OECD member countries

When a test is performed according to an OECD guideline, all OECD countries are obligated to accept the data generated by the test. As such, companies have to use the improved guideline rather than different study designs depending on where in the world the chemicals are used.
21 OCTOBER 2021