Thursday, March 17, 2016

Prenatal exposure to flame retardants linked to poorer behavioral function in children

Public Release: 27-Jan-2016
Prenatal exposure to flame retardants linked to poorer behavioral function in children
University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center

New research from the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine suggests that prenatal exposure to flame retardants and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) commonly found in the environment may have a lasting effect on a child's cognitive and behavioral development, known as executive function.


Used as synthetic flame retardants in a number of consumer products, including polyurethane foams found in couches and upholstery, carpet pads, electronics, and some textiles, PBDEs have been detected in the environment - entering the air, water and soil from wear and tear of consumer products. Humans are exposed to PBDEs via ingestion of dust and diet. PBDEs accumulate in fats, and several studies have indicated that prenatal exposure to PDBEs is toxic to the developing nervous system. PFASs, also tested in the study, can be found in water and stain repellant products, including fast-food wraps, cleaning products, firefighting foams, upholstery, and non-stick cookware.

"We examined the relationship between prenatal exposure to PBDEs and PFASs and executive function in children at 5 and 8 years of age," said Ann Vuong, DrPH, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cincinnati in the Department of Environmental Health. "The findings suggest that maternal serum concentrations of PBDEs and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), one of the most commonly found PFASs in human blood, may be associated with poorer executive functioning in school-age children."


The HOME study has followed its participants from approximately 16 weeks gestation to eight years of age, examining their associations with endocrine function, cognition, learning and memory, motor skills, attention, executive function, and behavior.

"Given the persistence of PBDEs and PFASs in the environment and in human bodies, the observed deficits in executive function may have a large impact at the population level. Further


Executive function is a set of mental skills that help you get things done. These skills are controlled by an area of the brain called the frontal lobe.

Executive function helps you:
•Manage time
•Pay attention
•Switch focus
•Plan and organize
•Remember details
•Avoid saying or doing the wrong thing
•Do things based on your experience


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