New parents take great care in choosing just the right stroller. They shop for comfort, ease of use and style, but what if after all that shopping and careful selection the stroller you chose caused serious health issues for your child? What if the stroller increased the risk of hyperactivity disorder? What if that same stroller caused a decrease in your child’s IQ? According to researchers from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, your stroller, electronics and even the carpet your baby crawls on could be having just these effects. 

Question markPBDE and Neurological Development
At the root of concern is the flame retardant PBDE. PBDE, also known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers, has been used for many years to render materials otherwise flammable – flame retardant. The chemical has been shown to cause thyroid issues and behavioral/learning problems in animal studies, but before the medical community took notice, researchers needed to replicate the results in human study. 

More than 300 pregnant women were recruited for the study. Blood samples were drawn during pregnancy. Offspring was followed for five years after birth. Intelligence testing and behavioral tests were given to all offspring. When blood PBDE levels were compared with child test results, researchers found a clear connection. Children born to women who came in contact with PBDE during pregnancy were more likely to suffer from hyperactivity. IQ levels were about four points lower in children born to mothers measuring 10 times the level of PBDEs. 

Is PBDE an On-Going Concern?
The flame retardant was pulled from the market in 2004, but the products made with PBDE can be found all around us. Carpets, office equipment and electronics produced prior to 2004 could have been treated with PBDE. The chemical does not degrade quickly, so stores in the body are passed along to the fetus well after the mother comes in contact with the chemical. 

Source: Aimin Chen, Kimberly Yolton, Stephen Rausch, Glenys M. Webster, Rick Hornung, Andreas Sjodin, Kim N. Dietrich, Bruce P. Lanphear. Flame Retardants May be Toxic to Children. American Academy of Pediatrics. 6 May, 2013.