A study by National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) researchers suggests that children’s exposure to plasticizers is associated with reduced IQ and decreased cognitive development.
NHRI researcher Wang Shu-li (王淑麗) on Thursday announced the results of the 12-year study, saying that a 100 percent increase in children’s urinary phthalate metabolite levels lowers IQ scores by about 1 point.
Phthalates are a family of industrial chemicals that are widely used as plasticizers or softeners in a variety of commercial products, including food packaging, medical equipment, toys, furniture and cosmetics.
The team recruited 430 pregnant women in their third trimester from 2001 to 2002 and collected urine samples from mothers during pregnancy and later from the children, with a follow-up visit every three years up to 2012, Wang said.
The samples were analyzed for seven metabolite concentrations of widely used phthalates to examine the relationships between the phthalate metabolite levels and cognitive function, Wang said.
Significant inverse associations were found between the children’s IQ scores and their levels of metabolites of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate — the most common of the phthalates — as the mean IQ scores of the top 25 percent of children who had the highest phthalate metabolite levels were 5.69 points lower than those of the bottom 25 percent of children, who had lowest phthalates exposure, Wang said.
However, no significant association between maternal phthalate exposure and the children’s IQ scores was observed, she said.
Studies have suggested that low doses of phthalates could decrease the number of certain brain neurons, or disrupt the function of thyroid activity affecting neurocognitive development, she said, adding that phthalates are also considered endocrine disruptors that could boost estrogen and inhibit androgen.
The team found that children showed higher urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations than adults, suggesting that early-life phthalate exposure plays a significant role in cognitive development, she said.
The government in 2011 set the tolerable daily intake of DEHP at 50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight after phthalates used for industrial purposes were discovered in food products, before which 5 percent of children aged between two to eight were found to have consumed more than the allowable daily intake, but the percentages have diminished since food safety regulations were bolstered, she said.
A Taipei veterinarian is urging pet owners to avoid using insecticides around their homes, as their ingredients can be toxic to pets. Commercial-grade insecticides contain pyrethroids — organic compounds similar to natural pyrethrins, pesticides produced by flowers such as chrysanthemums — in quantities that are harmless to humans, but potentially fatal to cats and dogs, Asian Veterinary Specialist Referral Center veterinarian Chua Man-ling (蔡曼琳) said. Even in small quantities, pyrethroids are hazardous to cats, as they lack the metabolic enzymes needed to process them, Chua said. Cockroach sprays and ant traps are especially dangerous to pets as they contain boric acid, she
DOING ENOUGH? The HPA budgets NT$1.3 billion to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but has no separate budget to fight teen drinking, a doctor said The government should step up alcohol education and prevention efforts, and allocate more of the budget to it, doctors said on Friday, citing the high consumption of alcohol among Taiwanese adolescents. One out of four 12-to-17-year-olds has consumed alcohol, said Yen Tsung-hai (顏宗海), director of Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital’s Department of Clinical Toxicology. The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) budgets NT$1.3 billion (US$43.9 million) annually to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but it has not allocated a separate budget for preventing teenage drinking or excessive alcohol use, Yen said. “There is no so-called ‘safe drinking level’ for minors,” because any amount consumed
The Fancy Frontier manga and anime expo held in Taipei over the weekend has sparked controversy, after a participant allegedly contravened the Act on Offenses Against Sexual Morality (妨害風化罪) by publicly exposing her private parts during a photo shoot. The two-day event opened at the Expo Dome at the Taipei Expo Park on Saturday, attracting numerous comic and anime creators, cosplayers, photographers and fans. Allegedly, a female cosplayer who was not wearing any underwear lifted up her skirt and revealed her private parts at an outdoor photography area near the venue. Event organizers said yesterday that to prevent indecent exposure, they have since
DREAMING OF TRAVEL: About 7,000 people applied for the experience, with about 60 chosen for the first flight yesterday, which includes boarding an airplane Starved of the travel experience during COVID-19? Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) has the solution — a fake itinerary where you check in, go through passport control and security, and even board the aircraft. You just never leave. The airport yesterday began offering travelers the chance to do just that, with about 60 people eager to get going, albeit to nowhere. About 7,000 people applied to take part, with the winners chosen by random. More fake flight experiences are to take place in the coming weeks. “I really want to leave the country, but because of the pandemic, lots of flights cannot fly,”