Chemicals in pregnant women identified

Jan. 14, 2011 at 7:54 PM
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SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Almost all U.S. pregnant women carry dozens of chemicals from non-stick cookware, food or personal-care items -- some banned from the 1970s, researchers say.

Lead author Tracey Woodruff of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues analyzed data for 163 chemicals and found 43 of the chemicals were found in more than 99 percent of pregnant women.

The researchers detected polychlorinated biphenyls, organochlorine pesticides, perfluorinated compounds, phenols, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, phthalates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and perchlorate in 99 percent to 100 percent of pregnant women.

Bisphenol A, a chemical that makes plastic hard and clear and also found in epoxy resins that are used to line the inside of metal food and beverage cans, was identified in 96 percent of the women studied.

Prenatal exposure to BPA has been linked to affecting brain development and increasing susceptibility to cancer later in life, the researchers say.

"It was surprising and concerning to find so many chemicals in pregnant women without fully knowing the implications for pregnancy," Woodruff says in a statement.

"Several of these chemicals in pregnant women were at the same concentrations that have been associated with negative effects in children from other studies."

The findings are published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

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