A study from scientists at the Center for Reproductive Biology at Washington State University describes the intergenerational transfer of generic damage in rats arising from exposure to dioxin. The study found that great grandchildren experienced a significant increase in diseases such as kidney disease in males, pubertal abnormalities in females, ovarian primordial follicle loss and polycystic ovary disease, attributable to their great grandparents’ sub-acute level exposure to dioxin.
While there is no information as to whether similar effects might be observed in humans, the authors state that the study demonstrates the potential of dioxin to promote genetic changes leading to transgenerational inheritance of disease. “Although not designed for risk assessment, these results have implications for the human populations that are exposed to dioxin and are experiencing declines in fertility and increases in adult onset disease, with a potential to transmit them to later generations.” It is not known whether these effects are unique to the dioxin family of substances or whether similar results might be observed from other substances which cause genetic mutations in the reproductive system.
An abstract and the complete article are available at http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0046249