Study: Prenatal Exposure to PBDEs May Contribute to Attention Problems
A study recently published in Neurotoxicology and Teratology indicated a positive trend between prenatal exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), a class of flame retardants, and attention problems in early childhood. According to the press release, researchers at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health are the first to show the effects of these exposures on children’s development during the preschool and school-age periods. The study followed 210 mother-child pairs from birth through early childhood. The pairs were a subset of the center’s World Trade Center study, which was established to examine the effects of exposure to dust, smoke, and fumes on children’s development. CDC analyzed the cord blood samples for PBDEs to assess prenatal exposure to the flame retardant chemicals. Then, starting at age 3, the researchers used a standardized rating scale to annually assess child behavior through age 7. According to researchers, children with the highest exposure to certain PBDEs had approximately twice the number of maternally reported attention problems at ages 3, 4, and 7 years. “These findings reinforce the decision to phase out the use of PBDEs in consumer products and support the need to develop programs for safely disposing of products containing PBDEs that are still in use,” senior author Julie Herbstman says. The study is available as a PDF via the center’s website. The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health is a part of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York.