Do you purchase stain-resistant clothing? How about microwave popcorn? Dental floss? If you're pregnant, you might want to rethink these purchases. These products are all sources of PFCs, or perfluorinated compounds, and a new study has found that exposure to these compounds in the womb may dramatically affect birth weight in baby girls.
The study, which was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives
, looked at the level of prenatal exposure that pregnant women had to various PFC
s and compared these numbers to their daughters' growth both before and after birth. The researchers found that mothers of baby girls who had highest levels of the PFC exposure during pregnancy gave birth to babies who weighed between 3 and 5 ounces less than baby girls born to mothers with lower PFC exposure.
The study measured concentrations of three PFCs — PFOS (used to make carpet, furniture, and clothing stain-resistant,) PFOA (used to make non-stick cookware) and PFHxS (used in fire fighting foams) — in 447 blood samples taken from British women between 1991 and 1992. The mother-daughter pairs evaluated during the study were participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children
According to the study, baby girls born to moms in the highest PFOA exposure group weighed about 4.7 ounces less than girls born to mothers in the lowest exposure group. Pregnant women with the highest exposure to PFOS had baby girls that weighed 4.9 ounces less at birth compared to girls born to mothers in the lowest PFOS exposure group. And girls born to mothers in the highest PFHxS exposure group weighed 3.8 ounces less than girls born to mothers in the lowest exposure group.
How can you avoid PFCs? It is easier said than done as the chemicals are both common and persistent in the environment. But you can start by avoiding non-stick cookware, stain-resistant products, and not heating microwave food in its packaging.