The Link Between Flame Retardants and Preterm Births

Pregnancy is a delicate time in a woman’s life. Aside from your own well being, you constantly concern yourself with the health of your baby. Expectant mothers watch what they eat and avoid taking certain medications. They are also careful about which chemicals they put in and on their bodies. The necessary precautions during pregnancy are numerous, and researchers recently added another one to the already long list.

Physicians at the University of Texas Medical Branch recently discovered a new link between preterm birth and a chemical commonly found in everyday life. As reported by Medical Xpress, researchers believe that exposure to flame retardant material during pregnancy contributes to preterm births. The study was completed in collaboration with Kaiser Permanente California. Researchers collected blood samples from expectant mothers as they entered the labor and delivery section of the hospital. Upon review, they concluded that women with higher levels of flame retardant chemicals were more likely to deliver preterm.

What are Flame Retardant Materials
Flame retardant chemicals are used to make everyday materials safer, by suppressing the development of flames during a fire. Polybrominated Diphenyl is the main chemical used in this process. It is added to products through the process of coating. The use of flame retardants greatly increased over the last 60 years, with new fire safety regulations. Today, a variety of household items contain flame retardant chemicals, including:




Children’s clothes

Strollers and car seats

Vehicle parts

Consumers are in constant contact with these chemicals without knowing it. Advocates argue that flame retardants give people extra time to prevent the spread of fire, therefore reducing the opportunity for injury. Opponents point to the fact that these chemicals are not permanently bonded to the materials they protect, which causes them to leak into the surrounding air. Over time, they develop into pollutants that are potentially dangerous.

Understanding Preterm Birth
Preterm births occur before the 37th week of gestation. Each year, this condition affects more than 15 million newborns. It is the second leading cause of death among children under the age of 5-years-old, partly because more than a million preterm infants die within one year of life.

Dr. Ramkumar Menon, assistant professor in the UTMB Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, lead the study. He is quoted in the article as stating, “Since stopping the use of exposure of flame retardants during pregnancy is not likely, our laboratory is currently studying the mechanisms by which flame retardants cause preterm birth.” He continued, “Understanding these mechanisms might help us to reduce the incidence of preterm birth caused by flame retardants.”

In addition to detection in pregnant mothers, researchers have also found traces of flame retardant chemicals within the amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus. It has also been detected in fetal tissue and the milk of breast feeding mothers.

Chicago Birth Injury Lawyers
If your newborn was delivered preterm and you believe a third party may be at fault, contact the experienced birth injury attorneys of Levin & Perconti today at (877) 374-1417 for a free consultation.

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