Some intelligence and behavioral problems in young children may actually be caused by controversial fire retardant chemicals used in products that are supposed to protect kids, according to a new study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting.  

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have mostly not been used in items like baby strollers, carpets and electronics in the U.S. since 2004 because of known health risks. However, since PBDEs are not very biodegradable, they may still exist in older products that people may have or continue to exist in the tissue of people who were exposed to the chemicals.

Prenatal exposure to PBDEs was associated to lower cognitive abilities at 5 and increased hyperactivity from 2 through 5 years old in the sample of 309 pregnant women and their children.

Each 10-fold increase in maternal exposure to the chemicals was linked to a four-point decrease in IQ scores which, while it might not seem like much in an individual, could have a big impact on the social interactions and overall economic stability if an entire population experiences this decrease.

“To reduce PDBEs in pregnant women, hand washing to reduce dust ingestion is important,” said Dr. Aimin Chen, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental health at University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. “Also reducing PBDEs in the indoor environment may help, such as replacing carpet padding or polyurethane foams that contain PBDEs.” Read the full story here:

Exposure to fire retardants during pregnancy linked to hyperactivity, lower IQ in kids

PBDEs have been known to pose risks since before 2004. Even though they are no longer sold for most products, pregnant women and mothers need to be careful when using products that were sold before 2004.

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