Sunday, April 20, 2003

Chemical buildup may cause brain damage

Los Angeles Times
April 20, 2003

"Toxic chemicals used as flame retardants are rapidly building up in the bodies of people and wildlife around the world, approaching levels in American women and their babies that could harm developing brains, new research shows.

The chemicals, PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, are used to reduce the spread of fire in an array of plastic and foam products in homes and offices, including upholstered furniture, building materials, televisions, computers and other electronic equipment...."

This year, the European Union banned the two PBDE compounds that have been shown to accumulate in human bodies.

Some European industries had already begun to phase out the chemicals, and levels in the breast milk of European women have begun to decline.
Drinking problems may start in womb, researchers find -
By Michael Bradley
April 21 2003

"A mother's heavy drinking during pregnancy triples the likelihood of her unborn child developing alcohol-related problems, a 30-year study shows.

Having tracked more than 430 Americans since before their birth, researchers have identified foetal alcohol exposure as a risk factor in a person developing alcohol-related problems by their 21st birthday....
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's annual report Statistics on Drug Use in Australia 2002 says more than half of Australian women continue to drink while pregnant or breastfeeding, and a quarter smoke. Almost all of those surveyed said they reduced their drinking on finding they were pregnant, but the report suggests Australian women are more than three times as likely as those in the US to drink while pregnant...."