Brown University Research Examines Environmental Pollutants in Women of Childbearing Age

Research conducted at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, has found that large percentage of women of childbearing age have been exposed to environmental pollutants that have been shown to harm the brain development of babies and fetuses.

The study found that nearly half of all women of childbearing ages from 16 to 49 had high levels of two of the following three pollutants: lead, mercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Nearly 23 percent of the women tested had high levels of all three pollutants. Only 17 percent of women tested had low levels of all three pollutants.

These dangerous pollutants in the blood systems of women can be passed on to fetuses through the placenta and to babies through breast milk.

Marcella Thompson, the environmental health state agency liaison at Brown University and lead author of the study, says that all three substances can harm fetal and infant brain development but little is known whether the combination of two or all of the pollutants compounds the problem. “We carry a history of our environmental exposures throughout our lives,” warns Dr. Thompson.

Dr. Thompson is a graduate of Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. She earned master’s degrees at Boston University and the Harvard School of Public Health and a Ph.D. in nursing and environmental health at the University of Rhode Island.

Filed Under: Research/Study

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