Pregnant women in US carry risky multiple chemicals

January 14th, 2011 - 5:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 14 (IANS) Practically all pregnant women in the US carry multiple chemicals, including the banned ones, says a new study. The study is the first to take note of all the chemicals to which pregnant women are exposed, the journal Environmental Health Perspectives reports.

Analysing data for 163 chemicals, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, detected polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) - compounds used as flame retardants - banned in many states and DDT that is also a banned pesticide.

Bisphenol A (BPA), which makes plastic hard and clear, and is found in epoxy resins that are used to line the inside of metal cans of food and beverage, was identified in 96 percent of the women surveyed, according to a California statement.

Prenatal exposure to BPA has been linked to adverse health outcomes, affecting brain development and increasing susceptibility to cancer later in life, according to the researchers.

“It was surprising and concerning to find so many chemicals in pregnant women without fully knowing the implications for pregnancy,” said Tracey Woodruff, director of the program on reproductive health and the environment at the University of California, who led the study.

“Several of these chemicals in pregnant women were at the same concentrations that have been associated with negative effects in children from other studies,” said Woodruff, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynaecology.

“Besides, exposure to multiple chemicals that can increase the risk of the same adverse health outcome can have a greater impact than exposure to just one chemical.”

Researchers analyzed data for 268 pregnant women from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2004, a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population.

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