Do These Toxins Delay Pregnancy?

Women with higher flame retardant levels were 30% to 50% less likely to conceive each month than those with lower levels.
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Flame retardants have been implicated in low fertility, according to a study in Environmental Health Perspectives published January 26. These widespread environmental toxins called polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, are prevalent in many common consumer products, including foam furniture, stereos, computers, televisions and carpeting, and, once released into the environment, they pass easily into the human bloodstream.

In this latest study, women with higher PBDE levels were 30% to 50% less likely to conceive each month than those with lower levels. While all women in the study eventually conceived, the study indicated a link between PBDE exposure and sub-fertility. Some 97% of Americans have detectable levels of PBDE in their blood, according to a related press release, with higher rates in California, "possibly because of that state's strict flammability standards."

Environmental Working Group (EWG) has done several studies on the prevalence of these hormone-disrupting chemicals, and the particular susceptibility of infants and young children. Studies have shown that toddlers typically have three times as much PBDEs in their blood as their mothers, and EWG found 11 different types of flame retardants. PBDEs have also been found in breast milk and household dust, and children ingest more of the stuff when they put toys and other objects into their mouths. E's recent coverage on autism's connection to environmental toxins includes the role of PBDEs.

SOURCES: Environmental Health Perspectives; Environmental Working Group