Why focus on the foetus, infants and children?
Exposure to many external agents during growth and development may produce adverse effects on health, such as birth defects and neurodevelopmental damage, that have no counterpart in adult life. Epidemiological studies have shown associations between environmental hazards and adverse child health outcomes. The foetus and infant are especially vulnerable to the exposure to environmental risk factors that disrupt the developmental processes. Major environmental hazard such as ambient air pollution, water contaminants, allergens/biological organisms, environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), noise pollution, pesticides, radiation, toxic wastes, and ultraviolet (UV) light may lead to serious health problems including premature birth, congenital anomalies, low birth weight, respiratory diseases, cancer, learning disabilities, behavioural problems, and may affect health in later life.