Study links exposure to chemicals and reduced lung function in children

Barcelona and French scientists carry out pioneering research into the impact of the exposome on respiratory health

ISGlobal researcher Maribel Casas (by Laura Fíguls)
ISGlobal researcher Maribel Casas (by Laura Fíguls) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

February 6, 2019 12:36 PM

A European study has found that children in the womb and after birth who are exposed to chemicals such as parabens, phthalates and perfluoroalkyl substances -often found in household products, cosmetics and packaging- show reduced lung function.

The pioneering study was jointly carried out by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and France's Institute for Health and Biomedical Research (INSERM), along with other European research teams.

Published in the journal, 'The Lancet Planetary Health', the study was carried out with data from over 1,000 mother-child pairs, and is one of the first to take a comprehensive approach towards the concept of the exposome.

The exposome encompasses the totality of human environmental (non-genetic) exposures from conception onwards, and complements the genome, the genetic material that makes up an organism.

Comprehensive look into environmental exposure

We are all exposed to a range of environmental factors, such as changes in climate, air pollution, and a variety of chemical substances. Yet, until now, most studies on the impact of environmental factors on child lung function have focused on just one type of exposure.

ISGlobal researcher Martine Vrijheid pointed to the importance of the new study, suggesting it "implies a new paradigm in the research on environmental health," adding: "We have seen that chemicals are more relevant than we thought."

The study by ISGlobal and INSERM analyzed data from 1,033 mother-child pairs in six European countries: Spain, France, Greece, the UK, Lithuania and Norway, studying 85 exposures to chemicals during pregnancy and 125 after birth.