Prior studies involving the same group of mothers and children have found PBDE exposure during pregnancy to be tied to lower birth weight and thyroid problems, the authors noted.
Eskenazi stressed that while the PBDE levels found among the children in the study were higher than is generally found among the U.S. population, it is similar to other children living in California.
So, what should parents do to lower the risk? Eskenazi and her colleagues advise taking steps such as quickly sealing up any furniture/upholstery tears, and being vigilant about mopping and vacuuming to keep dust levels down. Routine hand-washing is also recommended.
Dr. Maida Galvez, an associate professor in the department of preventive medicine and pediatrics at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, agreed with those precautionary measures.
And when families shop for furniture, she also suggested "choosing what are known to be safer alternatives, such as products filled with cotton, wool or polyester rather than chemical-treated foam. Families can also look for products that are flame-retardant free."
Find out more about PBDEs at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Brenda Eskenazi, Ph.D., professor, maternal and child health and epidemiology, and director, Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health, University of California, Berkeley; Maida P. Galvez, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor, department of preventive medicine and pediatrics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City; Nov. 15, 2012, Environmental Health Perspectives, online
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