A medical review has found that exposure to chemicals used to manufacture everyday items could be linked to brain development disorders in children.A number of common chemicals can interfere with thyroid hormone actions in pregnant women, essential for brain development in foetuses and young children, according to a report published in Endocrine Connections.
The increase in chemical production has led to "widespread environmental chemical contamination", the review found. Thyroid-disrupting chemicals in the environment pose real risks for child development and health, it added.
The review, by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Universite Paris-Sorbonne, examined published evidence of chemicals, such as pesticides and those used in the manufacture of drugs, cosmetics, furniture and plastics, that can all interfere with thyroid hormones.
It warned that current public health policy does not fully address the risks to vulnerable populations.
"Many experts in the field consider that the current testing guidelines for thyroid-disrupting chemicals are not sufficiently sensitive, do not take into account recent findings and do not adequately consider risks to vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women," Professor Barbara Demeneix, Universite Paris-Sorbonne, said.
Maternal thyroid hormones are essential for normal brain development of children and previous studies have found that even moderate disruption can affect cognitive development and increase the risk of brain developmental disorders in children.