PBDE’s and Neurodevelopmental Challenges in US Children

PBDE FreeThe Environmental Health Perspectives August 2014 article, “Prenatal Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDE’s) Exposures and Neurodevelopment in U.S. Children through 5 years of Age: The HOME Study (which you can read here… ) followed  309 women at 16 weeks gestation with the newborns followed for another 5 years. A 10-fold increase in PBDE exposure at 16 weeks resulted in a 4.5 decrease in IQ and a 3.3% increase in hyperactivity score at age 5.

PBDE’s (yes that is a mouth full) are basically the chemicals added as flame retardants in furniture, carpet padding, car seats, electronics, and other consumer products over the past 30 years. We accumulate PBDE’s when we inhale dust, ingest it with food, and absorb it on our skin and from teeth.  Kids rolling around on new carpets, off-gassing from new mattresses, old foam that is breaking down, and that new car smell are all examples of this kind of exposure. Body burden in the US is 10 times higher than Europeans or Asians because of US regulations requiring the addition of flame retardants to products.

PBDE’s have long half-lives once in our bodies (2-5 years) and in addition to neurodevelopmental toxicity, they disrupt thyroid function.  This article lists over 45 references in this area of study.

So how do we really in practical terms avoid these PBDE’s?

During pregnancy or before, consider keeping your old mattress (less off-gassing) and don’t buy an new one unless it is specifically PBDE – free. Consider purchasing a flame retardant-free mattress for your newborn and infant.

Avoid new furniture, cars, carpets, carpet pads, and avoid foam that is breaking down.  New electronics are also a higher risk.  Consider purchases that are not made in the USA, or of products not made to meet USA flame retardant specifications.

If anyone has good resources please share: How to avoid PBDE’s?



Dr. Paul








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