Exposure to a trio of common chemicals can affect developing babies’ brains. But it’s unclear what role those chemicals play as kids get older. One Brown University researcher aims to find out.
Brown University epidemiologist Joseph Braun has received a $1.5 million dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health. The money will will help him tease out when and how kids’ brains are most vulnerable to chemical exposures. Braun says researchers don’t know enough about the effects of chemicals like phthalates, found in some plastics, or triclosan, common in some lotions and soaps.
“We hypothesized going into this that the phthalates and triclosan would have effects on cognitive development, specifically things related to memory and learning," said Braun. "But we also suspect based on some other human studies that there may be some impacts on behaviors, things like ADHD behaviors as well as anxiety and depression.”
Braun has collected data on nearly 400 mothers and their children from pregnancy through the first eight years to analyze for the study.
“We’re going to try to do things that people haven’t done in the past to identify whether there are unique periods in childhood or pregnancy that the fetus or child is more susceptible to environmental toxicants," Braun said.
Braun will also be investigating exposure to bisphenol A, often found in the lining of canned goods . He says early results show a link with more aggressive behavior in girls and higher rates of hyperactivity.