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A review of physiological and behavioral changes during pregnancy and lactation: Potential exposure factors and data gaps

Abstract

Exposures to environmental contaminants can pose risks to pregnant women’s health, their developing fetuses, children, and adults later in their lives. Assessing risks to this potentially susceptible population requires a sound understanding of the physiological and behavioral changes that occur during pregnancy and lactation. Many physiological and anatomical changes occur in a woman’s organ systems during the course of pregnancy and lactation. For example, blood volume and cardiac output increase during pregnancy, and other metabolic functions are altered to provide for the demands of the fetus. During lactation, nutritional demands are greater than during pregnancy. There are also changes in behavior during both pregnancy and lactation. For example, water consumption during pregnancy and lactation increases. These behavioral and physiological changes can lead to different environmental exposures than these women might otherwise experience in the absence of pregnancy or lactation. This paper provides a summary of information from the published literature related to behavioral and physiological changes in pregnant and lactating women that may affect their exposure or susceptibility to environmental contaminants, provides potentially useful exposure factor data for this population of women, and highlights data gaps.

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Correspondence to Jacqueline Moya.

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Moya, J., Phillips, L., Sanford, J. et al. A review of physiological and behavioral changes during pregnancy and lactation: Potential exposure factors and data gaps. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 24, 449–458 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/jes.2013.92

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/jes.2013.92

Keywords

  • dietary exposure
  • inhalation exposure
  • personal exposure

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