Exposure to Toxic Chemical Dioxin During Pregnancy Harms Offspring for Several Generations – Chemical Free Life
In the study, researchers exposed pregnant mice to environmentally relevant levels of a chemical called dioxin, which, like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), is a common by-product of industrial production and waste incineration, and is also found in some consumer products. These chemicals find their way into the food system where they are eventually consumed by humans. Dioxins and PCBs bio-accumulate as they move up the food chain and are found in greater concentrations in animal-based food products.
The scientists observed the production and function of cytotoxic T cells — white blood cells that defend the body against foreign pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria, and seek out and destroy cells with mutations that could lead to cancer — was impaired when the mice were infected with influenza A virus. This weakened immune response was observed not only in the offspring of the mice whose mothers where exposed to dioxin, but in the subsequent generations, including as far out as the rodent equivalent of great-grandchildren. The researchers also found that this effect was more pronounced in female mice.