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Developmental Immunotoxicology

Genetic Toxicology, Oncogenesis, Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology

  1. Rodney R. Dietert PhD

Published Online: 15 DEC 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470744307.gat164

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

How to Cite

Dietert, R. R. 2009. Developmental Immunotoxicology. General, Applied and Systems Toxicology. .

Author Information

  1. Cornell University, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, New York, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2009


Developmental immunotoxicology (DIT) is the study of the impact of chemicals, drugs, physical factors and other agents on the immune system of the nonadult (prenatal, neonatal and juvenile). To achieve complete maturation and full competence, the immune system undergoes a series of novel maturational events during critical windows of development. These events lack exact equivalents in the adult. Not surprisingly, disruption of these early-life events can have profound and persistent adverse consequences impacting the health and wellbeing of the affected child or adult. Because the developing immune system has been shown to be more sensitive to environmentally induced disruption than is the fully matured immune system of an adult, determination or of immuntoxic risk for the non adult is a growing concern. A dysfunctional immune system appears to be linked to many of the most prevalent chronic diseases of children and adults. For this reason, improved DIT safety testing and resulting immunotoxicity-associated risk reduction, could have a significant health benefit. This chapter describes: (i) the windows of vulnerability for the developing immune system, (ii) toxicants reported to disrupt immune development, (iii) the importance of gender in risk of developmental immunotoxicity, (iv) the nature of the adverse health outcomes resulting from developmental immunotoxicity and (v) approaches to developmental immunotoxicity safety testing.


  • developmental immunotoxicology;
  • developmental immunotoxicity (DIT);
  • prenatal;
  • neonatal;
  • juvenile;
  • children's health;
  • immune;
  • disease risk;
  • critical windows of development;
  • safety testing