Flame Retardants May be Child Retardants
I’ve been warning about the dangers of toxins in the home environment for years, and some common household chemicals are still making headlines. Earlier this month, doctors attending the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies heard a report about the dangers of exposure to flame retardant chemicals.
Although these chemicals, called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), have been banned in the U.S since 2004, they still linger in many common older household products such as carpeting, furniture, and even baby strollers. According to researchers at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, mothers who were exposed to these chemicals are more likely to have children with hyperactivity and lower IQ scores at five years of age.
To come to that conclusion, they enrolled more than 300 pregnant women in the study. Investigators monitored their blood for evidence of exposure to the chemicals, and followed the progress of their children for five years. Sadly, a 10-fold increase in blood levels of PBDEs was associated with a greater risk that a woman’s child would be diagnosed with a hyperactivity disorder at 2-5 years of age, and as much as a 4-point drop in expected IQ.
“Because PBDEs exist in the home and office environment, as they are contained in old furniture, carpet pads, foams and electronics, the study raises further concern about their toxicity in developing children,” said lead author, Dr. Aimin Chen. Disturbingly, these chemicals are detectable in “virtually all U.S. children,” according to the scientists. If you’re pregnant or have an infant in the home, consider removing or replacing any older carpets, carpet pads, electronics and foam cushions in the home.
Chen A, Yolton K, Rausch S, Webster GM, Hornung R, Sjodin A, et al. Cognitive Deficits and Behavior Problems in Children with Prenatal PBDE Exposure.