Posted by Claudia Grazioso on December 19, 2011
Phthalates and other plasticizers have finally been making their way into the mainstream news. Still, it’s hard for some parents to accept that, say, that soft, pliable baby toy that their little one loves to chew on might have a negative impact on their child’s neurological development. After all, have you ever seen a menacing-looking rubber ducky? And sometimes it’s hard for pregnant women to imagine that the amazing cosmetic product that gives them camera-ready skin might have a lasting effect on their baby’s development. But, sadly, research suggests that this may be true.
Recently, researchers looked at children who had been reported to show symptoms of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, and what they found is eye-opening. Children whose urine showed higher levels of commonly-used phthalates likes Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP) or Di (2-ethylhexyl) Phthalate (DEHP) had more symptoms of ADHD. In fact, researchers found that the higher the level of phthalates in the child’s urine, the worse the symptoms of ADHD. Specifically, higher levels of DBP were linked to a child being less able to pay attention and having more impulse control issues. Elevated levels of DEHP also led to a child being less attentive and more hyperactive.
While these findings aren’t conclusive, many researchers feel that they do point to the need for a closer examination of the link between ADHD and phthalates. One area that definitely seems to need a closer look is pre-natal exposure to phthalates, and what impact they can have on a baby’s developing brain.
Since phthalates are eliminated from the body through urine relatively quickly, it seems that eliminating or lessening your child’s exposure to phthalates could be helpful in alleviating some symptoms of ADHD. If one of my children had ADHD, I would certainly give that a try. Worst case scenario, fewer plasticized toys to occupy them. Best-case scenario, a healthier child. If you have a child with ADHD, talk to your pediatrician about ways to help manage the condition that work best for you. You might also want to keep an eye on your child’s exposure to phthalates.