School-aged children who were exposed to polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants in utero or in early childhood may have poorer attention, lower fine motor coordination and lower IQ than unexposed youths, according to research from the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health.

PBDEs can be found in foam furniture, electronics, carpets and upholstery. They can easily leach out into the environment where they accumulate in human fat cells.

Researchers collected blood samples from 279 women during pregnancy or at delivery and from 272 of the children at age 7. At ages 5 and 7, the children underwent standardized tests to assess their attention, fine motor coordination and IQ.

“This is the largest and most comprehensive study to date to examine neurobehavioral development in relation to body burden measures of PBDE flame retardants,” said lead author Brenda Eskenazi, Ph.D. “It shows that there is a relationship of in...

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