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Can Fire Retardants Raise Risk of Children Born With Lower IQs?

Study found higher levels of the chemicals in mom also upped chances of hyperactivity in kids by age 5

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"There would also be a corresponding decrease in the number of children who would be 'gifted,' " with an IQ above 130 points, Lanphear added.

Dr. Maida Galvez, an associate professor at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, advises consumers to look for new furniture that includes the label "TB 117-2013," which means it meets new standards set by California regarding fire safety in products.

As for existing furniture and other products, it's possible to send samples to labs for testing to see if they contain fire retardants. A 2012 study found questionable fire retardant chemicals in 85 percent of 102 couches tested.

Alternatively, "there are simple steps every family can take to reduce exposures to flame retardant chemicals in the home," Galvez said. "This includes wet mopping and wet dusting, ventilating the home and frequent hand washing with basic soap and water. These simple steps can reduce exposure to dust that may contain flame-retardant chemicals."

Future research should focus on the effects of flame-retardant exposure on adults and children, said study lead author Dr. Aimin Chen, an assistant professor in the department of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

The study appears in the May 28 issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

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