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Prenatal Exposure to Bug Sprays May Harm Baby

A chemical that boosts the killing power of household insecticides may cause developmental problems for kids.

By Todd Neale, MedPage Today

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Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011 —Prenatal exposure to a chemical designed to enhance the effect of household insecticides may harm neurodevelopment, data from a prospective cohort study of children found.

Data analyzed for almost 350 children found that each unit increase in exposure to piperonyl butoxide — a chemical found in fogger type products to kill flying insects or fleas — was associated with a small but statistically significant increase in the risk of delayed mental development at age three, according to Dr. Megan Horton, of Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, and colleagues.

But the risk increased with exposure and most highly exposed children had a more than threefold increased likelihood of slowed mental development Horton and co-authors reported online ahead of the March issue ofPediatrics.

Piperonyl butoxide a chemical mixed with pyrethroid pesticides to improve efficacy.

Although the effects associated with exposure were modest, the researchers wrote, "they were comparable in magnitude to reports from studies of other prenatal neurotoxicants that affect development in young children."

They added, however, that "these findings should be considered preliminary and may be useful for generating future hypotheses."

The use of residential pesticides has shifted in recent years from organophosphorus insecticides — which have been associated with impaired neurodevelopment — to pyrethroid insecticides, which have not been evaluated extensively for potential developmental toxicity.

There is concern because piperonyl butoxide is known to block the body’s ability to breakdown pyrethroid insecticides into harmless — detoxified — waste.

Exposure to piperonyl butoxide has also been shown to generate reactive oxygen species, lending support to the possibility that oxidative damage could be a mechanism for altered neurologic development.

In the current study, Horton and her colleagues assessed exposure to piperonyl butoxide in personal air collected during the pregnancies of 348 black and Dominican mothers and to the common pyrethroid pesticide, permethrin, in personal air and maternal and umbilical cord plasma.

The mothers, from low-income neighborhoods in New York City, were participating in the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH) Mothers and Newborns cohort.

The researchers assessed the cognitive and motor development of the offspring at age 3 years using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development.

"This finding is worrisome because mental development index scores are more predictive of school readiness," Horton and her colleagues wrote.

Horton and her team acknowledged that their study was limited by possible residual confounding from unmeasured factors and by the lack of measurement of piperonyl butoxide exposure in blood or urine samples.

The study was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Environmental Protection Agency, Educational Foundation of America, John and Wendy Neu Family Foundation, New York Community Trust, and Trustees of the Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Fund.

The authors reported that they had no conflicts of interest.






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Date: 18.12.2018, 15:32 / Views: 91282