A study of published work was carried out in a search for evidence of a causal role for parental occupational exposure in the origin of structural and functional defects of the central nervous system (CNS) in children. Studies that consider this topic are scarce and mostly refer to broad categories of exposures and effects. Non-occupational studies referring to environmental exposure of humans and studies on experimental animals were also reviewed. The studies on animals provided straightforward evidence about morphological and behavioural abnormalities resulting from some agents used occupationally. The studies on humans yielded a scala of defects that could be ascribed to exposure to high doses of various agents in the environment. Evidence for a causal role of occupational exposure has not been found, but a highly probable influence on the developing CNS is hypothesised for lead, methyl mercury, and ionising radiation. Parental occupational exposure to cadmium, organic solvents, anaesthetics, and pesticides may also play a part in causing defects of the CNS. Well designed future research is needed to test the above hypotheses.
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