Study indicates a household chemical may be linked to child language delays

(Ohio) – A recent study suggests that young children from low-income homes whose mothers reported frequent use of toxic chemicals like household cleaners were more likely to show language development delays by age 2.

The study reports those children also scored lower on a test of cognitive development. Researchers took into account factors such as the education and income of mothers, which are also linked to their children’s language and cognitive skills, according to officials. Researchers claim the findings offer additional support for the need for pediatricians and other health care providers to offer counsel to parents of young children designed to encourage them to restrict their use of toxic household chemicals.

The study was published online recently in the journal of Clinical Pediatrics.

Researchers used data on 190 families from the Kids in Columbus Study, a Crane Center research project that followed children born into low-income families in Columbus for five years after birth.

At the start of the study, mothers were asked about their use of household chemicals such as floor and toilet cleaners and other solvents during their pregnancy. When their child was 14 to 23 months old, they were asked again. Mothers were also asked to report whether or not they had mold in their home, used pesticides, and overall neighborhood pollution sources.

Officials noted that children’s language development was then measured between 14 and 23 months old and again at 20 to 25 months old. A standardized test examining children’s understanding and expression of language (such as recognition of objects and people, following directions, and naming objects and pictures) was used.

Results indicated that neighborhood pollution, mold in the house, and pesticide use were not significantly linked to child outcomes, however, the more household chemicals mothers reported using regularly after childbirth, the lower the child’s language and cognitive outcomes at 2 years of age were.

While no direct link was discovered between chemical use during pregnancy, likely because many women reduce exposure to chemicals during pregnancy, exposure was reported by about 30 percent of mothers when their children were between 1 and 2 years old.

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