A researcher at B-C's Simon Fraser University says the findings of a new study linking chemicals and learning disabilities in children should be taken seriously by the federal government.
The study concludes that when a pregnant woman is exposed to flame retardants, her child may be more likely to experience hyperactivity and other learning disorders.
Health sciences professor Bruce Lanphear says much more caution must be taken around allowing pregnant women to be exposed to certain chemicals. Lanphear says that in the short term, parents should consider removing old couches and carpets made with flame retardant from their homes and offices. But he thinks it's time for a long-term solution.
Lanphear worries that even if specific chemicals are phased out, without proper testing regulations it's possible new man-made chemicals with unknown side effects could be used instead.
The study, published online Wednesday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found a 4.5 drop in IQ and greater hyperactivity in five-year-olds was associated with their mother's exposure to flame retardants during early pregnancy and after the babies were born.
The research joins five other international studies highlighting the potential dangers of polybrominated diphenyl ethers, known as PDBEs, which were once widely used in products like couches, carpets and car seats.
The study started 10 years ago as realization donned that chemical compounds throughout the consumer market had little research answering questions about their safety. The researchers tested blood, urine and hair samples of 309 women and their children in Cincinnati, Ohio, starting from 16 weeks of pregnancy and until their children were five.