Maternal exposure to household products may impact offspring’s IQ


December 13, 2019

2 minutes to read

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Nathaniel DeNicola

Children who are exposed to chemicals in the womb may face a range of neurodevelopmental and other health risks as they grow older. For example, new research shows that prenatal exposure to common household products can negatively impact a child’s IQ.

The results are “consistent with previous research, but the message they convey is worth repeating” Nathaniel DeNicola, MD, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at George Washington University who was not affiliated with the study, told Healio Primary Care.

One of the study’s authors, Eva M. Tanner, PhD, MPH, told Healio Primary Care that his team had looked at the negative consequences of chemical combinations, unlike previous studies.

“Most of the previous research on the health risks of exposure to chemicals studies one chemical at a time,” said Tanner, postdoctoral researcher in the school of medicine’s department of environmental medicine and public health. Icahn from Mount Sinai. “However, we are exposed to a multitude of chemicals every day in the air we breathe, the food and water we consume, and the things we touch. Unfortunately, we don’t know how these isolated chemicals work. in complex mixtures and have an impact on our health or that of future generations.

“Chemicals of concern”

Tanner and his colleagues looked for 26 endocrine disrupting chemicals in the urine or blood of 718 pregnant women who were in their first trimester. At the age of 7, the children of these women had their IQ tested using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children. The researchers used sum of weighted quantiles (WQS) regression to assess the association between maternal levels of 26 chemicals and children’s IQ scores.

They found that among boys, there was a 1.9 point drop in IQ for an interquartile change in the WQS index. Among girls, there was no such decline.

Specifically, Tanner and his colleagues found that bisphenol F had the greatest negative impact on children’s IQs, with a weight of 14% on the WQS index. Other ‘chemicals of concern’ included 3-phenoxybenzoic acid (9%), 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol (9%), monoethyl phthalate (6%), perfluorooctanoic acid ( 6%), perfluorooctane sulfonate (5%%), triclosan (5%), perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (4%), monobenzyl phthalate (4%) and bisphenol A (4%).

How to reduce exposure

According to DeNicola, there are few guidelines for clinicians to talk to their patients about the dangers of prenatal exposure to chemicals in common household products, but he suggested the following talking points:

  • minimize the use of plastic around food;
  • wash your hands frequently with soap and water, as hand gel only kills bacteria;
  • decrease the use of scented personal care products such as deodorant and soap;
  • avoiding foods containing high levels of mercury and other toxins;
  • be aware of air quality alerts when you exercise outdoors;
  • eat organic foods as much as possible;
  • use vinegar-based cleaning products, not chemical solvents; and
  • frequently use a damp mop around the house to limit exposure to heavy metals in dust.

“A lot of these conversations can be conducted by patients and doctors,” he said. “Best practices can emerge from a number of different methods, not just clinical guidelines. ”

Tanner also suggested that doctors distribute brochures to pregnant women in their offices to provide “information on potentially harmful chemicals in consumer products.” – by Janel Miller

The references:

Ashley JM, et al. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2015; doi: 10.1186 / 12884-015-0748-0.

DeNicola N, et al. Toxic environmental exposures in maternal, fetal and reproductive health. Contemplate Ob Gyn. September 12, 2018. Accessed December 5, 2019.

Tanner EM, et al. About Int. 2019; doi: 10.1016 / j.envint.2019.105185.

Disclosures: DeNicola and Tanner do not report any relevant financial disclosures.


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