March 6, 2024

European consortium to study how to reduce the impact of endocrine disruptors on pregnancy and pre-puberty 

HYPIEND project is studying the impact of endocrine disruptors on the hormonal system during pregnancy, the first 18 months of a baby’s life and during pre-puberty

The European HYPIEND project, coordinated by the Eurecat technology centre, is studying the impact of endocrine disruptors on the hormonal system during pregnancy, the first 18 months of a baby’s life and during pre-puberty to gain the understanding needed to devise strategies to minimise exposure to these chemicals and minimise their adverse effects on the neuroendocrine system.  

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can interfere with the operation of the hormonal system, especially at critical stages of life such as pregnancy, infancy, and childhood. Hence, the project will specifically analyse their impact on the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, a structure where the central nervous system and the endocrine system converge and which regulates hormones such as TSH, growth hormone and oxytocin, which, in turn, coordinate body functions including somatic growth, lactation and coping with stress. 

“Endocrine disruptors are found in everyday products including personal care products and cosmetics, food, beverages and cleaning products,” says project coordinator Chiara Baudracco. “Over five years, HYPIEND will examine the impact of these chemicals through a holistic approach.”  
“This is a promising Horizon Europe project due to its scientific and biotechnological relevance,” she adds. “The main outcomes will be shared at the widest and highest level owing to the collaboration we will have as coordinators with other European projects funded by the European Commission under the same call.” 

The HYPIEND project is to tap advanced computational toxicology methods to build a methodological framework leveraging publicly available data and state-of-the-art analytical techniques. This will help define and analyse patterns of exposure to combinations of endocrine disruptors and assess the impact of these combinations on the neuroendocrine system in preclinical models, by studying mechanisms of action and seeking out new biomarkers. 

HYPIEND project will also identify non-invasive biomarkers of hypothalamic-pituitary axis disruption and conduct two European-wide clinical studies with pregnant women and pre-pubertal children to minimise exposure to these chemicals and assess the applicability of the identified biomarkers. 

The first study will evaluate the effectiveness of a multicomponent behavioural intervention featuring workshops and harnessing a mobile app to diminish levels of exposure to endocrine disruptors in pregnant and breastfeeding women and their children up to 18 months after birth. Women and their children from Spain, Belgium and Poland will take part in the study.  

The second study will be conducted in Spain and Belgium with 6-7-year-old children and their tutors. It will consist of an intervention in primary schools over three school years to assess its effectiveness in reducing the levels of endocrine disruptors in the children’s urine and increasing their parents’ knowledge of these chemicals.  

HYPIEND results will help develop new endocrine disruptor screening methods and map out new public health strategies and policies to minimise the exposure of the most vulnerable populations.  

The project has a €7 million budget. It is funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe Programme under the HORIZON-HLTH-2023-ENVHLTH-02-03 call for proposals on the health impacts of endocrine-disrupting chemicals.  

The HYPIEND consortium is made up of 14 partners from eight European countries. They are the Eurecat Technology Centre, the project’s coordinator, the Health Sciences Research Institute of the Germans Trias i Pujol Foundation (IGTP-CERCA), the University of Granada, Protoqsar and the Health Research Institute Hospital La Fe (IIS La Fe) in Spain; Stichting Radboud University (SRU) in the Netherlands; Sciensano, the KU Leuven and the University of Liege (ULiège) in Belgium; KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden; the Centre of Postgraduate Medical Education (CMKP) in Poland; and Enco SRL in Italy. King’s College London (UK) and the University of Geneva (Switzerland) are also participating.