Prenatal Smoking and Exposure to Common Household Chemicals Linked to Child Obesity
Posted Sep 13 2012 11:29am
Two new studies concluded that pregnant women exposed to cigarette smoke and common household chemicals increase their unborn child’s risk of obesity later in life.
Researchers at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children followed 378 teenagers who were grouped as either exposed to maternal smoking or non-exposed.
Teenagers exposed to maternal smoking is defined in the study as those whose mothers smoked more than one cigarette a day during the second trimester, while teenagers under the non-exposed group are those whose mothers did not smoke before or during pregnancy.
The researchers found that children belonging in the first group (exposed to maternal smoking) weighed less at birth, but had marginally higher body weight and significantly higher total body fat compared with the non-exposed students as they approached their teenage years. Additionally, the part of the brain that aids in processing emotions, the amygdala, was also significantly smaller in the children of smokers.
Meanwhile, a separate study at the Emory University in Atlanta found that chemical exposure in the womb to common household items and cleaners may also contribute to childhood obesity.
Researchers used data from a study conducted in the United Kingdom and discovered that pregnant women exposed to polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs) have babies that are smaller at birth, but larger at 20 months of age.
Polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs), a chemical often detected in human blood and breast milk, are commonly used in a variety of consumer and industrial products, including carpets and microwave popcorn bags.
The findings of Emory University researchers reinforces the study in Denmark which reveals that babies exposed to PFCs in the womb were more likely to be overweight by their 20th birthday. Denmark researchers suspects PFCs contribute to increased levels of insulin and heavier body weight in adulthood.