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Toxicology of the Placenta

Genetic Toxicology, Oncogenesis, Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology

  1. Ramesh C. Gupta DVM, MVSc, PhD, DABT, FACT

Published Online: 15 DEC 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470744307.gat088

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

How to Cite

Gupta, R. C. 2009. Toxicology of the Placenta. General, Applied and Systems Toxicology. .

Author Information

  1. Murray State University, Toxicology Department, Breathitt Veterinary Center, Hopkinsville, Kentucky, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2009


Placental toxicology deals with the adverse effects of toxic substances on the placenta, the mother and the foetus. It is a fascinating subject which receives attention from biologists, toxicologists, teratologists, pharmacologists, physicians and regulatory agencies. Structural or functional damage to the placenta can lead to abortion, birth defects, stillbirth, premature birth and many other complications. Since the placenta is an entry organ to the foetus, and the ‘placental barrier’ is merely a false notion, the placenta remains vulnerable to the adverse effects of many toxicants. The placenta is a complex organ to study since it continually changes throughout gestation. This organ is further complicated by multiple pregnancies in many species, including humans. The placenta plays several roles in the development of the foetus by serving as the lung, gut, kidney and endocrine/exocrine gland. Additionally, it supplies vital nutrients and gases to the foetus. This chapter describes the placental toxicity of drugs of abuse, alcohol, tobacco products, metals, pesticides, environmental toxicants and mycotoxins.


  • placental toxicity;
  • foetal toxicity;
  • abused drugs;
  • metals;
  • mycotoxins;
  • alcohol;
  • smoke;
  • pesticides;
  • environmental contaminants