Household Items May Pose Danger During Pregnancy

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    • Household Items May Pose Danger During Pregnancy

      Household Items May Pose Danger During Pregnancy

      Household Items May Pose Danger During Pregnancy

      What do popcorn bags, frying pans and mattresses have in common?

      Chemicals contained in these and other common household items may affect maternal thyroid function and may lead to impaired fetal brain development, according to PhD candidate Glenys Webster, of UBC's School of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.

      Webster is leading an investigation into the effects of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), chemicals that are used as flame-retardants, and perfluroinated compounds (PFCs), used as stain or water repellents. The chemicals are found at low levels in all Canadians. They leach out of many products, can last for a long time in both indoor and outdoor environments, and accumulate in both animals and humans via dust, foods and air.

      Called the Chemical, Health and Pregnancy study (CHirP), Webster believes it is one of the first such studies in the world. She is collaborating with investigators from BC Women's Hospital & Health Centre, Health Canada, and the University of Alberta.

      Animal studies have shown that certain PBDEs interfere with the thyroid system, critical to fetal development. A butterfly-shaped gland in the lower front part of the neck, the thyroid controls metabolism and keeps basic functions such as body temperature, blood pressure and energy levels working properly.

      It is known that thyroid disruption in early pregnancy can result in neurological damage in babies, but the mechanism -- including any negative environmental factors -- is not known...

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