Common pollutant affects the brain development of fetuses

Research from Society for Endocrinology warns that exposure to a common toxin affects a hormonal production crucial for brain development

Common pollutant affects the brain development of fetuses

Leer en Español: Contaminante común afecta el desarrollo cerebral de los fetos

A recent research presented during the Society Endocrinology annual conference in Harrogate, England, assured that "pregnant women exposed to higher levels of a common environmental pollutant, perchlorate, had lower levels of a thyroid hormone" vital for normal fetal brain development. The findings suggest that it is important to minimize the exposure of the mothers to the chemical, due to prevent potential neuro-developmental abnormalities in children.

Perchlorate can be found in the water, milk, some foods and in chemicals of daily use

Perchlorate is known for reducing the absorption of iodine from the blood into the thyroid, where iodine is needed to make the thyroid hormone T4. The Society for Endocrinology explained that the T4 is an essential hormone for normal fetal brain development, so "the perchlorate exposure cloud decrease maternal thyroid hormone levels, which may lead to brain development defects in babies", assured the research.

Urine and blood samples were obtained from 308 pregnant women. They had no known thyroid disease and a singleton pregnancy at 36-38 weeks gestation

The research

The research investigated the impact of perchlorate exposure on maternal thyroid hormone levels. Professor Bijay Vaidya, the leader of the investigation, and his team measured the levels of perchlorate in urine samples and thyroid hormone levels in blood from healthy, pregnant women. According to the team, they found that higher perchlorate levels were associated with lower levels of the T4 hormone during the third trimester of pregnant women from South West England.

The data was gathered in the South West of England, but mirror data reported from other parts of the world

Professor Vaidya assured that "this study adds to the growing body of evidence that exposure to the environmental pollutant, perchlorate, is widespread and may have deleterious health outcomes".

The author also stated that "these findings are important because we know that optimum thyroid hormone levels during pregnancy are essential for normal fetal brain development and this study shows that common pollutant may be adversely affecting brain development in children".

What's Perchlorate?

Perchlorate is a common environmental pollutant that can be found in water, milk, foods, and in chemicals of everyday use, including fertilizers and air bags. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this chemical can occur naturally or be man-made.

The FDA explained, "Manufactured perchlorate is used as an industrial chemical and can be found in rocket propellant, explosives, fireworks and road flares". While the natural perchlorate is found "in some drinking water and in some foods. In addition, trace amounts of perchlorate may be used as a component in some food packaging".


Latin American Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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