Children’s Hospital, along with Bellinger and other colleagues.
Thyroid hormones are important to brain cell growth, neuronal
migration and differentiation, as well as in the formation
of synapses. Human studies suggest that early exposure to
phthalates may be associated with a variety of childhood
outcomes, including disruptive behavior, reduced masculine
play in boys, and social and learning problems.
In 2008, Congress banned some phthalates from “accessible
parts” in children’s toys and child-care products, but phthalates
are still used in vinyl, plastic wrap and food containers, and
in scented products, such as dryer sheets and air fresheners.
They’re also elements of fragrances used in scented soaps,
lotions and shampoos, one reason that women of reproductive
age may have higher levels of the chemical in their bodies than
Pam Factor-Litvak, PhD, and colleagues from the Columbia
University Mailman School of Public Health found that
children exposed during pregnancy to elevated phthalate levels
had IQ scores more than six points lower, on average, than
Roni Kobrosly, PhD, of Mount Sinai Hospital, and colleagues
looked at phthalate levels of 153 pregnant women. The
researchers found that higher levels of some phthalates in the
pregnant women were associated with conduct and attention
problems in their male children (Environmental Health
Phthalate exposure may also affect social communication,
“one of the core symptoms of autism,” says Miodovnik. He and
colleagues analyzed phthalate concentrations obtained from 404
inner-city pregnant women whose children were later evaluated
for social impairments at ages 7 to 9. The children of mothers
with higher concentrations of phthalates had poorer scores on
measures of social cognition, social communication and social
awareness (Neuro Toxicology, 2011).
Another ubiquitous chemical is bisphenol A (BPA), which
is used to make polycarbonate plastics. It’s in some food
containers, including the lining of many soda and soup cans, as
well as thermal receipt paper commonly used in cash registers.
BPA can also migrate into the mouth from compounds used
in dental sealants and fillings. It’s been found in the urine of
more than 90 percent of a nationally representative population.
Research shows it might act like estrogen in the body and