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Prenatal exposure to common chemicals linked with drop in child IQ

Following a previous study linking higher maternal levels of two common chemicals with slower mental and motor development in preschoolers, a new study has found that this effect continues into school age.

The study involved 328 inner-city mothers and their children. The mothers' levels of prenatal urinary metabolites of di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP), butylbenzyl phthalate (BBzP), di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP), di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate and diethyl phthalate were measured in late pregnancy. IQ tests were given to the children at age 7.

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Plastics

Older news items (pre-2010) brought over from the old website

Pollutants affect babies' brains

It appears that exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in a mother's blood and breast milk can hinder the development of a baby's brain before and after birth. Although PCBs are now banned, these chemicals were once widely used in industry as coolants and lubricants and are still being leaked into the environment from old electrical equipment.

[591] Walkowiak, J., Wiener J. A., Fastabend A., Heinzow B., Krämer U., Schmidt E., et al.
(2001).  Environmental exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and quality of the home environment: effects on psychodevelopment in early childhood.
Lancet. 358(9293), 1602 - 1607.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/health/newsid_1644000/1644446.stm

PCB-laden fish may affect adult verbal memory

The dangers of PCBs (once widely used as electrical insulators and lubricants and in paints and varnishes) have long been known, and assumed to apply chiefly to children and developing fetuses. A long-term study of those who eat the PCB-laden fish from Lake Michigan suggests for the first time that high levels of PCB may cause problems learning and remembering new verbal information in adults. In particular, those with high blood PCB levels had difficulties recalling a story told just 30 minutes earlier, and were less likely than their less-exposed peers to cluster words given orally into categories based on their meaning to boost recall.

Schantz, S.L., Gasior, D.M., Polverejan, E., McCaffrey, R.J., Sweeney, A.M., Humphrey, H.E.B. & Gardiner, J.C. 2001. Impairments of Memory and Learning in Older Adults Exposed to Polychlorinated Biphenyls via Consumption of Great Lakes Fish. Environmental Health Perspectives, 109 (6), 605.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2001-06/UoIa-Hcot-0406101.php
http://ehpnet1.niehs.nih.gov/docs/2001/109-6/toc.html

How chronic exposure to solvents can impair the brain

Chronic occupational exposure to organic solvents, found in materials such as paints, printing and dry cleaning agents, has been linked to long-term cognitive impairment, but chronic solvent-induced encephalopathy (CSE) is still a controversial diagnosis. An imaging study of 10 CSE patients who had been exposed to solvents and had mild to severe cognitive impairment, 10 participants who had been exposed to solvents but had no CSE symptoms, and 11 participants who were not exposed to solvents and had no symptoms, has now found impairment in the frontal-striatal-thalamic (FST) circuitry of CSE patients. The disturbances are predictive of the clinical findings — impaired psychomotor speed and attention — and were also linked to exposure severity.

[989] van Dijk, F. J. H., Schene A. H., Heeten G D. J., Visser I., Lavini C., Booij J., et al.
(2008).  Cerebral impairment in chronic solvent-induced encephalopathy.
Annals of Neurology. 63(5), 572 - 580.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-04/w-dib041508.php

Chemical in clear plastics can impair learning

A rat study has found that low doses of the environmental contaminant bisphenol–A (BPA), widely used to make many plastics found in food storage containers (including feeding bottles for infants), inhibit estrogen–induction of synaptic connections in the hippocampus, suggesting implications for children's learning ability. Also, when the ability to make estrogen is impaired, as in old age, exposure to BPA could adversely affect hippocampal function and contribute to age–related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, in which hippocampal function is impaired. The doses were below the current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reference daily limit for human exposure.

[740] MacLusky, N. J., Hajszan T., & Leranth C.
(2005).  The Environmental Estrogen Bisphenol A Inhibits Estradiol-Induced Hippocampal Synaptogenesis.
Environmental Health Perspectives. 113(6), 675 - 679.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-04/yu-cpi041205.php

 

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