UCSF-Led Study Finds Pregnant Women’s Exposure to Flame Retardants Leads to Lower IQ in Their Babies

In an important study led by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, it was found that pregnant women who had high exposure to flame retardants tended to have children with lower levels of intelligence. Flame retardants are commonly found in furniture and other household products.

In examining nearly 3,000 mother-child pairs around the world, the researchers found that for every 10-fold increase in a mother’s exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), there was a drop of 3.7 IQ points of their child.

Juleen Lam, an associate research scientist at UCSF’s Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment and the study’s lead author, said that a “3.7-point decrease in IQ might not sound like a lot, but on a population-wide level it means more children who need early interventions and families who may face personal and economic burdens for the rest of their lives.”

Tracey Woodruff, a professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at UCSF, added that “when the effects of PBDEs are combined with those of other toxic chemicals such as from building products or pesticides, the result is a serious chemical cocktail that our current environmental regulations simply don’t account for. Our findings should be a strong wake-up call to those policymakers currently working to weaken or eliminate environmental health protections.”

The study, “Developmental PBDE Exposure and IQ/ADHD in Childhood: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” was published on the website of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. It may be accessed here.


Filed Under: Research/StudyWomen's Studies


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