(NaturalNews) Prenatal exposure to phthalates has been linked to problem behavior in children. A collaborative study by Mount Sinai, Cornell University and U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention connects attention deficits and aggressiveness in children to levels of prenatal phthalate exposure.
Researchers analyzed phthalate metabolite levels in urine samples of 404 multiethnic women who were pregnant with their first babies. The mothers were not told of the urine test results. When contacted for follow up visits four to nine years later, 188 women consented. They completed questionnaires designed to determine their child's reasoning skills as well as behavior. They were interviewed by researchers unaware of the previous urine test results.
The study showed that mothers with higher concentrations of low molecular weight phthalates reported poorer behavior in their children. The behavioral indicators were highly consistent with conduct and reasoning problems associated with ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
Phthalates are chemical compounds used in a vast array of consumer products. These include body care items such as nail polish, lotion, liquid soap, shampoo, perfume and eye shadow; food related products such as plastic bottles and food packaging; items meant for internal use such as enteric coatings of pills and supplements, medical catheters and blood transfusion devices; plus products including glues, lubricants, building materials, detergents, paints and textiles.
Phthalates are considered endocrine disruptors because they interfere with the body's delicate and very essential hormonal system. In test animals, phthalate compounds have altered reproductive anatomy and function. Research is also beginning to link endocrine disruptors like phthalates to auto-immune disorders and obesity.
In the last few years certain phthalates have been banned from toys and cosmetics. Some major retailers continue to phase out other phthalates. These actions help to reduce the phthalate load for babies and young children. But the study of prenatal phthalate exposure found that low molecular weight phthalates were the most strongly associated with later problems in children. These phthalates are the kind found in shampoos, body wash, lotions and other personal care items unaffected by recent U.S. regulations--products often used by pregnant women.
Children face heavy exposure to phthalates from conception onward. The effect of these chemicals on physical, cognitive and emotional development is only beginning to be understood.