Toxic Chemicals Banned Decades Ago Found in Fetal Organs

June 27, 2021

ADHD, Diabetes, Infertility, Obesity, and Reduced Sperm Production Linked to Early Exposure to Toxins

Industrial chemicals, banned decades ago, have been recently found in the organs of fetuses according to a new study published in the journal Chemosphere. Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden studied concentrations of 22 persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that accumulate in humans through food, drinking water and air particles. The study involved examining samples of fetal fat tissue, liver, heart, lung and brain from 20 pregnancies that, for differing reasons, ended in stillbirth during the third trimester. These pregnancies occurred during 2015 and 2016. The researchers identified at least 15 of the 22 POPs in every organ of the test fetuses. Four chemicals were found in each child in every tissue. The most pervasive chemicals found were: HCB, DDE, variants of PCBs. Maternal blood and placenta samples are typically used to estimate fetal chemical exposure. However, this study discovered that the concentrations of POPs in the fetal tissues exceeded those found in maternal blood and placenta samples. Additionally, some pesticides were found in the fetal tissues that were not identified in the maternal blood or placenta samples. This suggests that blood and placenta samples may provide a misleading portrayal of the diversity and concentration of chemicals that infants are exposed to during early development. For the most part, the highest concentration of chemicals were found in fat tissue and the lowest concentration was found in the brains of the stillborn babies. The researchers reported that relative exposure of baby boys was higher compared to baby girls. Previous studies have linked early life exposure of POPs to adverse health outcomes such as low birth weight, gestational diabetes, ADHD, infertility, obesity,and reduced sperm production. Due to these adverse health outcomes the study’s authors urge policy and decision makers from around the world to consider the combined impact that a mix of toxic chemicals can make in people and nature for decades to come.

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