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Flame Retardant Linked to Reduced Fertility

Near universal exposure to class of flame retardant has implications for fertility

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 27 (HealthDay News) -- A class of flame retardants is associated with reduced fertility, according to a study published online Jan. 26 in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Kim G. Harley, Ph.D., from the University of California in Berkeley, and colleagues measured serum levels of the four most common congeners of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE). BDE-47, -99, -100, and -153 concentrations were analyzed in 223 pregnant women (predominantly low-income Mexican immigrants), who were also interviewed to determine how many months they took to become pregnant.

The researchers found that increased levels of the four congeners individually or in combination were associated with a longer time to pregnancy. After adjusting for various factors, the reduced fertility was significant for BDE-100 (fecundability odds ratio, 0.6), BDE-153 (fecundability odds ratio, 0.5), and all four congeners combined (fecundability odds ratio, 0.7). There was no significant association between PBDE levels and menstrual cycle characteristics.

"We found significant decreases in fecundability associated with PBDE exposure in women," Harley and colleagues conclude. "If confirmed, this finding would have strong implications to women trying to conceive given that exposure to PBDEs is nearly universal in the United States and many other countries."

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