Thursday, 11 December 2014

Prenatal Exposure to Common Chemicals Linked to Lower IQs in Study


Children's IQs were about 7 points lower among mothers with the highest exposures

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WebMD News from HealthDay

By Tara Haelle

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Children exposed in the womb to higher amounts of two chemicals commonly found in plastics may be at higher risk for lower IQ, a new study suggests.

The two compounds, di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP), are part of a class of chemicals called phthalates and are found in a variety of household goods.

"This study adds to the small but growing body of research linking children's prenatal exposure to phthalates and later development," said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, who was not involved with the study. "This is the first prospective study to identify an association between prenatal phthalate exposure and IQ in school-age children."

Phthalates are added to plastics to make them more flexible and harder to break, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But they serve other purposes as well, said study author Pam Factor-Litvak, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

"Depending on the specific phthalate, they are used to make plastic flexible, as adhesive and as additives to cosmetics, air fresheners and cleaning products, as several 'hold' scents," Factor-Litvak said.

Factor-Litvak and her colleagues gave IQ tests to 7-year-old children of 328 inner-city mothers whose urine had been tested for phthalates exposure during late pregnancy.

The children of women in the highest quarter of exposure to DnBP and DiBP had IQs an average seven points lower than children of mothers in the lowest quarter of exposure, the investigators found.

The children also had poorer processing speed, perceptual reasoning and working memory if they were exposed to higher levels of these two chemicals, the findings showed. Perceptual reasoning refers to a person's ability to visualize and understand non-verbal information. In addition, verbal comprehension was lower among children with the greatest exposure to DiBP.

The researchers had also looked at exposure to three other phthalates -- butylbenzyl phthalate (BBP), di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) and diethyl phthalate (DEP) -- but did not see any differences among the children, with the exception of lower perceptual reasoning linked to BBP exposure. The findings were published Dec. 10 in the journal PLOS ONE.

source : Prenatal Exposure to Common Chemicals Linked to Lower IQs in Study

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