Flame retardants linked to lower IQ
A new study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives has found that prenatal exposure to flame retardants can be significantly linked to lower IQs and greater hyperactivity in five-year old children.
The research team measured the levels of flame retardants called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in 309 U.S. women at 16 weeks of pregnancy, and followed their children to the age of five. The results showed that a 10-fold increase in PBDE concentrations in early pregnancy – the time during which the fetal brain is developing – was associated with a 4.5 IQ drop in children who were exposed. These results are comparable with the impact of environmental lead exposure.
While most items containing PBDEs were removed from the market a decade ago, some are still available, and others remain in the environment. Nearly all homes and offices still contain some PBDEs. PBDEs have been widely used as flame retardants in furniture, carpet padding, car seats and other consumer products over the past three decades.