Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Study eases concerns about flame retardants and health effects on newborns

Study examined the effects of fire
retardants on newborns' thyroids.
Study after study seems to find links between chemicals and potentially major health effects, but now there is some good news: A new study found no link between thyroid hormone levels and flame retardants in the blood of newborn babies, according to a Reuters report.

The study focused on PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) that are used in common household items such as carpets and furniture and easily off-gas into the rooms.

Flame retardants can be detected in the blood of 97 percent of Americans, and previous studies have linked them with a wide range of complications, including disrupted thyroid function in pregnant women.

In this new study by California researchers, nearly 300 pregnant women were examined as well as their babies after birth.

The researchers found no link between the mothers’ chemical exposure and the newborns’ thyroid hormone levels.

Still, the experts warn that pregnant women in other parts of the country may be exposed to higher levels of flame retardants, and that these may affect their newborns.

Animal studies have suggested as much, and the researchers have warned that timing may alter the results. They examined the newborns’ blood one day after birth, but results may be different in older children, they say.

Health effects of flame retardants
Older children may be affected more,
study authors say.

Even though many flame retardants are being phased out, experts still worry about high levels of exposure, since many common household products are currently impregnated with the chemicals.

While most people today absorb the chemicals by ingesting household dust, once these products land in a landfill and start breaking down they can enter the environment and become part of the food chain.

See also our previous post, Growing Concerns Over Flame Retardants.

Exposure to environmental pollutants

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