The potential of exposure biomarkers in epidemiologic studies of reproductive health.
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The potential of exposure biomarkers in epidemiologic studies of reproductive health.

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  • Alternative Title:
    Environ Health Perspect
  • Description:
    To further the development and application of exposure markers in field investigations in reproductive epidemiology, we have synthesized recent examinations of the issues surrounding exposure measurements in reproductive epidemiology. The specific goals of this paper are to define exposure biomarkers and explore their potential uses, particularly as screening tools. The tests for glucaric acid, thioethers, mutagenicity, and porphyrin patterns meet the general criteria for useful exposure screens. For certain xenobiotic agents, these tests accurately differentiate exposure levels, as demonstrated in occupational and environmental epidemiologic studies. As urinary screens, they are noninvasive and applicable on a large scale with current laboratory techniques. For short-term exposure, glucaric acid, thioethers, and mutagenicity tests are useful. Porphyrin patterns may measure cumulative effects as well as current exposure levels. The usefulness of these tests in epidemiologic studies of environmental effects on reproductive health has yet to be studied. To do so, the battery must be standardized for pregnant women, and test results must be correlated with measured adverse reproductive outcomes, such as gestational length and birthweight. This correlation is particularly important because maternal exposure rather than fetal exposure is being measured. The extent to which xenobiotic chemicals cross the placental barrier may vary greatly depending on the type of exposures, timing in pregnancy, and maternal detoxification capability. Without better exposure measures, epidemiologic studies of reproductive health probably will not successfully identify xenobiotic fetotoxic agents in the environment. However, with an adequate battery of nonspecific exposure biomarkers, prospective studies of environmental effects on pregnancy outcomes might be possible.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
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