Household Chemicals Linked to Fertility Problems

Jan 27, 2010
Women exposed to high levels of chemicals found in household items, have lower chances of getting pregnant, study says.

The scientists at University of California-Berkeley revealed that flame retardants called PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, found inside home in carpets, foam furniture, electronics, plastics and other items disrupt hormonal balance and lead to reduced fertility. According to the results of the study, each 10-fold increase in the blood of the PBDEs level lowers woman's chances to conceive by 30 percent.

The study included 223 pregnant women in California's Salinas Valley. The scientists measured the level of PBDEs in women's blood stream to find out how environmental exposure may affect female fertility.

It is known that more than 97 percent of the women have PBDEs in the blood. The higher levels of the flame retardants decrease women's odds of getting pregnant by almost fifty percent. As much as 15 percent women with high PBDEs levels took more than a year to conceive.

Previous studies showed that PBDEs are linked to reduced fertility in male animals. Now it is the first study to suggest that these chemicals have negative effect on human reproductive health.

The study was published in Environmental Health Perspectives .