Posted On: January 19, 2011 by Patrick A. Malone

Dangerous chemicals found in virtually all pregnant women, study says

Virtually all pregnant women in the U.S. are exposed to multiple and varied chemicals – some long banned, others currently used – that may harm the fetus during sensitive periods of development, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California San Francisco.

The study found that the bodies of virtually all pregnant women in the U.S. carry multiple chemicals, including some banned since the 1970s and others used in common products such as non-stick cookware, processed foods and personal care products.

The researchers used data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) to determine whether 163 chemicals were in the blood or urine of 268 U.S. pregnant women sampled between 2003 and 2004.

According to the study - the first to look at a broad range of chemicals specifically in pregnant women - 99% to 100% of pregnant women carried polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides, perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), phenols, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), phthalates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and perchlorate.

The health risks for mother and child associated with exposure to this many chemicals at detectable levels is not known. Low-level exposures to some of these chemicals during the prenatal period can cause long-term health effects, including birth defects, reproductive problems and cancer.

Surprisingly, DDE – a breakdown product of the long-banned DDT pesticide – was found in every woman and at some of the highest levels measured for any of the chemicals. Other chemicals found at high levels include perfluoroctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), which is found in food packaging and non-stick cookware; triclosan, found in antibacterial soap and products; and mono-ethyl phthalate (MEP), found in cosmetics and fragrances. Animal or human studies show all of these chemicals can interfere with the endocrine system.

In addition, many of the pollutants measured in the study can pass through the placenta from the mother to the developing fetus and have been measured in cord blood, fetal blood and amniotic fluid.

Source: Environmental health News

You can view the original report here.

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