When you're pregnant, you're told to avoid many different things in order to keep your unborn baby healthy. You must avoid certain chemicals, foods and more so that your baby doesn't develop health issues over time. But no matter how hard you try, you can't be perfect in avoiding every health hazard. Worse, some of those health hazards are in places you wouldn't think to look.
A new study from Sweden revealed that chemicals found in consumer products during the first trimester of pregnancy can lead to lower IQ in children. Such chemicals are known as endocrine-disrupting chemical mixtures, and they're linked to neurodevelopment. It turns out that that can hinder such development for children by age seven due to their mothers' exposure during pregnancy.
To discover this, scientists measured 26 chemicals in the blood, as well as the urine of 718 mothers during their first trimester of pregnancy. Some of the chemicals include bisphenol A (BPA), pesticides, phthalates and many more. All of these chemicals are known to be in consumer products, meaning that you've most likely come into contact with them at some point. What's worse is that these 26 chemicals are either confirmed to or are suspected to disrupt hormone activity in humans.
The study would later follow up with the children when they were seven years old, and that's where the link was discovered. Mothers who had higher levels of any of those 26 offending chemicals had children with lower IQ scores. Interestingly, boys scored lower than girls by just two points. But regardless, that link between those chemicals and children's IQ scores is evident.
The most damaging chemical in lowering children's IQs was said to be a BPA replacement called bisphenol F (BPF). This suggests that it's not as safe as once thought. Other notable chemicals include chloropyrifos (a pesticide), phthalates (found in both soft polyvinyl chloride plastics and cosmetics) polyfluoroalkyl substances (used in cleaning products) and triclosan (used in antibacterial soaps). All of these chemicals are so potent that even short-term exposure to them at low levels can leave lasting negative consequences to your unborn baby.
"This study is significant because most studies evaluate one chemical at a time; however, humans are exposed to many chemicals at the same time, and multiple exposures may be harmful even when each individual chemical is at a low level," explained Eva Tanner, Ph.D., MPH, postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
It's been noted that this study was merely observational, meaning that more studies will need to be carried out in order to confirm these findings. This includes long-term chemical exposure, as well as how it affects a woman and her baby during the second and third trimesters. In the meantime, it's suggested that pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant need to avoid such chemicals at all costs. That way, they and their unborn baby can be as healthy as possible.