Reproductive Toxicology

Reproductive problems are common in the general population. Approximately 5 to 10% of couples have fertility problems, 10 to 15% of recognised pregnancies are not successfully completed, approximately 3 to 5% of newborn babies have major birth defects, and approximately 10% of children suffer from neuro-developmental disorders.

It is plausible that exposure to chemicals contributes to this problem as several chemicals, some with widespread environmental, consumer or occupational exposure, are reproductive toxicants in animals.

According to a report by the US National Academy of Sciences roughly 28% of all major developmental disorders are attributable wholly or in part to environmental exposures. The National Food Institute investigates environmental contaminants for their abundance in foodstuffs and for reproductive toxicity effects in animal studies.

The focus is mainly on effects induced during development, as this period is very sensitive and irreversible effects can be induced. Both short-term and long-term generation studies are performed and a broad range of endpoints are assessed.

Out of the around 30,000 chemicals we may be exposed to, the majority have not been sufficiently evaluated for reproductive toxicity. REACH, the new EU chemical legislation, may change this in the future. However, a testing strategy and relevant guidelines for the regulatory testing are also needed.

The National Food Institute takes part in several externally funded research projects in order to improve the knowledge on reproductive toxicity of chemicals and contribute to regulatory test guidelines, EU testing strategy and risk assessment. 

The overall purpose of the research and public consultancy within this focus area is prevention of reproductive toxicity effects.


University Hospital of Copenhagen, Denmark
Brunel University, UK
University Hospital of Copenhagen, Denmark
Danish Veterinary and Food Administration
Danish Environmental Protection Agency
REACH Implementation Project Group
OECD working groups