Before Baby News — 11 April 2014
Flame Retardant Harmful to Fetuses

A new study by a team of Canadian and American researchers has provided further evidence that chemicals found in flame retardants are harmful to fetal development.  The chemicals known as PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) are found in many items such as couches and mattresses to electronic equipment. Although some of the chemicals have been banned, exposure to them continues because so many of the products containing them remain in households products.

At greatest risk of PBDEs are pregnant women and children. In this most recent study, researchers measured the PBDE level in the blood of pregnant women and then followed their children over the next five years.  The results were showed that children who were exposed to higher levels of PBDEs in the womb had a four point lower score on IQ tests at age five and hyperactivity problems became evident as early as two years of age.
PBDEs can disrupt the production of thyroid hormone, which plays a key role in the neuro-development of fetuses. In the womb, babies rely of the mother’s thyroid hormone to regulate the growth of cells. If the hormone is disturbed through exposure to PBDEs than the baby’s neuro-development will be affected.

Two of the chemicals in PBDEs have been banned in Canada and another is being phased out. PBDEs have been banned in the European Union and in some states in the US.
Source: Globe & Mail, May 7, 2013

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