In a groundbreaking study performed at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, researchers have linked prenatal phthalate exposure to lower IQ in children when they reach grade school. This is the first study to find such a link.
While more and more is being learned about the dangers of phthalates, they still appear in many of our products. These chemicals are used in air fresheners to extend the fragrance, appear in vinyl products such as dryer sheets and fabrics, and lurk in personal care items such as nail polish and lipstick.
Additionally, phthalates are often found in pesticides.
These chemicals have been linked to altering the function of testosterone, and of thyroid hormones. They are also linked to malformations of the genetalia, various reproductive issues, asthma, allergies and childhood obesity. What is even scarier is that there is a great deal not known about phthalates, and the little we know so far is already pretty bad.
For their experiment, researchers tracked 328 women in New York City from the time they were pregnant to the time that their children reached seven years of age. The women’s phthalate exposure was measured during their third trimester of pregnancy, and their children received IQ examinations at age seven.
Results of the study showed that the children whose mothers were exposed to the highest concentrations of two phthalates (25%), DnBP and DiBP, scored about 7 points lower on IQ tests than the children whose mothers were exposed to the least amount of these phthalates. Two other phthalates were also tested, but were not found to affect IQ.
According to lead author Pam Factor-Litvak, “pregnant women across the United States are exposed to phthalates almost daily, many at levels similar to those that we found were associated with substantial reductions in the IQ of children.” Yikes.
So what are expectant mothers to do? While it may be impossible to avoid exposure to all phthalates, some of the recommendations that the researchers make include never microwaving plastic, avoiding recyclable plastics 3, 6, and 7, and staying away from artificially scented items.
We’ll add one more thing to stay away from: processed food. Along with its many negative health effects, it may be stored in plastic containers which contain phthalates.
-The Alternative Daily