Invisible Chemicals Can Influence Women Fertility

Scientists  blame  flame  retardant chemicals for delays in becoming pregnant.

The chemicals, called PBDEs, were in common use in the 1970s in lounge suites, electronics, fabrics, carpets, and plastics, but were have been phased in Europe since the 1990s. The chemicals can leach out through dust gathered on surfaces which contain the compounds.

They can be inhaled and then stored in human fat cells.

A study found that women were half as likely to conceive if they had high levels of PBDE in their blood.

Researchers from the University of Berkeley published the study in the journal of Environment Health Perspectives yesterday.

Prof Kim Harley, of the University of Berkeley said: "When the analysis was limited to women who were actively trying to become pregnant, we found that they were half as likely to conceive in any given month if they had high levels of PBDE in their blood.

"We aren't looking at infertility, just sub-fertility, because all the women in our study eventually became pregnant.

Prof Harley said it was suspected PBDEs affected the levels of sex hormones, which then affected the chances of falling pregnant.

Although several types of PBDEs have been phased out, our exposure to the flame retardants is likely to continue for many years, Prof Harley said.

"PBDEs are present in many consumer products, and we know they leach out into our homes. In our research, we have found that low-income children in are exposed to very high levels of PBDEs, and this has us concerned about the next generation."

The researchers said it was difficult to keep up with the the ever-expanding range of chemicals in our environment.

The compounds that are now being used to replace PBDEs have not been approved of as totally safe due to the lack of human studies.

The Telegraph has contributed to the report.

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