Jun 24, 2010

Household Insecticides Appear In Umbilical Cord Blood

C&E News -  Common household insecticides reached detectable levels in the blood of the majority of babies born at an urban hospital, new research in Environmental Science & Technology (DOI: 10.1021/es1009778) reports.

The researchers studied the "non-persistent" pesticides bendiocarb, propoxur, and permethrin, which are common consumer products for lawns, backyards, and indoor pest control. Because scientists think that they disappear from the human body within a few days, the new finding suggests that the pregnant women received regular, chronic exposure, which may perturb fetal development, or that they were exposed shortly before childbirth -- perhaps even in the hospital, the authors speculate.

The study is one of the first in the U.S. to analyze cord blood, and thus to assess in utero exposure. Previous studies of permethrin, for example, monitored pregnant women who used it to treat scabies or head lice, and assumed fetal exposure without measuring it.

"We can see that they've been exposed, but we don't know if there are health consequences," says first author Gila Neta, an epidemiologist who is now at the National Cancer Institute. 

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