Joint Impact of Synthetic Chemical and Non-chemical Stressors on Children’s Health


Purpose of Review

Pregnant women are exposed to numerous synthetic chemicals (e.g., pesticides, phthalates, polychlorinated biphenyls) in their daily lives as well as a range of non-chemical stressors, including poverty, depression, discrimination, and stressful life events. Although many studies have examined individual exposures to chemical and non-chemical stressors in relation to child health outcomes, very few studies have considered these exposures together. Here, we review the recent epidemiologic literature on the joint impact of chemical and non-chemical stressors on child outcomes.

Recent Findings

Considerable co-exposure to chemical and non-chemical stressors occurs in vulnerable populations. Non-chemical stressors may modify the impact of chemical exposures on children’s health, typically exacerbating their negative impact, but associations differ considerably by the chemicals and populations of interest.


Additional research is urgently needed to better understand the cumulative risks of multiple stressors on children’s health and the underlying physiological mechanisms.

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Support for this work was provided by NIH P30ES005022, R00ES021470.

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Correspondence to Emily S. Barrett.

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Barrett, E.S., Padula, A.M. Joint Impact of Synthetic Chemical and Non-chemical Stressors on Children’s Health. Curr Envir Health Rpt 6, 225–235 (2019).

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  • Stress
  • Chemical
  • Pregnancy
  • Perinatal