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Flame retardant linked to altered thyroid hormone levels during pregnancy
Date:6/20/2010

Berkeley Pregnant women with higher blood levels of a common flame retardant had altered thyroid hormone levels, a result that could have implications for fetal health, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

"This is the first study with a sufficient sample size to evaluate the association between PBDE flame retardants and thyroid function in pregnant women," said the study's lead author, Jonathan Chevrier, a UC Berkeley researcher in epidemiology and in environmental health sciences. "Normal maternal thyroid hormone levels are essential for normal fetal growth and brain development, so our findings could have significant public health implications. These results suggest that a closer examination between PBDEs and these outcomes is needed."

PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, are a class of organobromine compounds found in common household items such as carpets, textiles, foam furnishings, electronics and plastics. U.S. fire safety standards implemented in the 1970s led to increased use of PBDEs, which can leach out into the environment and accumulate in human fat cells.

Studies suggest that PBDEs can be found in the blood of up to 97 percent of U.S. residents, and at levels 20 times higher than those of people in Europe. Because of California's flammability laws, residents in this state have some of the highest exposures to PBDEs in the world.

"Despite the prevalence of these flame retardants, there are few studies that have examined their impact on human health," said the study's principal investigator, Brenda Eskenazi, UC Berkeley professor of epidemiology and of maternal and child health. "Our results suggest that exposure to PBDE flame retardants may have unanticipated human health risks."

The new study, to be published June 21 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, is the second study to come out this year from Eskenazi's research grou
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Contact: Sarah Yang
scyang@berkeley.edu
510-643-7741
University of California - Berkeley
Source:Eurekalert

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