New research has found that exposure to chemicals which are suspected to be endocrine-disruptors during the first trimester of pregnancy may affect children’s IQ level at age seven.

The study, published in the journal Environment International, is among the first to look at prenatal suspected endocrine-disrupting chemical mixtures in relation to neurodevelopment.

For the study, researchers at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, USA, and Karlstad University, Sweden, together measured the levels of 26 chemicals in the blood and urine of 718 Swedish mothers during the first trimester of their pregnancies.

These chemicals included bisphenol A (BPA), which is found in plastic food and drink containers, as well as pesticides, phthalates, and other chemicals found in consumer products.

When the team looked at the effect of specific chemicals, they found that bisphenol F (BPF), which is a BPA-replacement compound, had the biggest effect on the children’s IQ, suggesting that BPF is not actually any safer for children than BPA.

Some of the 26 are known to disrupt endocrine (hormone) activity in humans; others have been shown to do so only in animals, or are suspected of endocrine disruption because they share chemical features with known disruptors.

“This study is significant because most studies evaluate one chemical at a time; however, humans are exposed to many chemicals at the same time, and multiple exposures may be harmful even when each individual chemical is at a low level,” added study author Eva Tanner, PhD, MPH.

However, the researchers also noted that they cannot establish cause and effect from the findings of the current study, and that further research is now needed.


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