Exposure to chemicals in the womb linked to reduced lung function in children

We are surrounded by chemicals and toxins including pesticides in the garden, flame retardants, lead, mercury and some cleaning products.

Most chemicals you come across in daily life won’t harm your foetus. But if you are exposed to large quantities of chemicals for a long time, it’s possible that your child is being exposed to an increased risk of health disorders.

Several pesticides and other industrial products now banned in most parts of the world are still persistent in the environment and in foods because they degrade slowly.

Research studies have suggested a link between exposure to these chemicals in the womb and parents reporting reduced lung function in children. The study was presented by Dr. Maribel Casas ( assistant research professor at the Barcelona Institute of Global Health).

The primary source of exposure was via foods eaten by the mother with the child in utero. Babies can be exposed via the placenta and also through breastfeeding. There are other chemicals present in the environment such as phenols and phthalates which have the potential to interfere with children’s developing lungs.

Dr. Casa and her colleagues studied the babies born in several regions of Spain between 2004 and 2008. They measured the levels of several organochlorine compounds in the blood of pregnant mother. The children were asked to take part in tests to measure their lung function at the age of four years and again at seven years. This was done by trained nurses and a pediatric pulmonologist.  The researchers found that the exposure of chemicals was linked to poor lung function of these children.

To reduce excessive exposure to these chemicals, women of reproductive age or pregnant women can try to moderate consumption of foods with high organochlorine compounds such as fatty meats and oily fish.

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