Thursday February 21, 2019

Prenatal Exposure to Plastic Chemical may Reduce Cognitive Skills

As the mPFC is crucial for high-level cognitive functions, reduced cognitive flexibility is observed in developmental disorders such as autism

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Pregnancy, air pollution
Sleeping for long hours during pregnancy linked to stillbirths. Pixabay

Prenatal or early exposure of your kids to a plastic chemical may harm brain development as well as reduce cognitive function, a study says.

Phthalates — chemicals that belong to the same class as Bisphenol A (BPA) and used in food packaging and processing materials — can potentially interfere with hormones important for the developing brain.

The study by researchers including Janice Juraska, from the University of Illinois in the US, showed that rats’ prenatal and early exposure to phthalates was associated with smaller medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) — brain region responsible for deep and dreamless sleep.

They also performed poorly on an attention-switching task than those not exposed to the chemicals early in life.

As the mPFC is crucial for high-level cognitive functions, reduced cognitive flexibility is observed in developmental disorders such as autism
As the mPFC is crucial for high-level cognitive functions, reduced cognitive flexibility is observed in developmental disorders such as autism. Pixabay

The findings, published in Journal of Neuroscience, showed that perinatal phthalate exposure resulted in a reduction in neuron number, synapse number, size of the mPFC and a deficit in cognitive flexibility for both male and female adult offspring of these rats.

As the mPFC is crucial for high-level cognitive functions, reduced cognitive flexibility is observed in developmental disorders such as autism.

Also Read: thyroid Dysfunction May Lead to Diabetes During Pregnancy

The results show that perinatal phthalate exposure can have long-term effects on the cortex and behaviour of both male and female rats.

The findings are important as humans may be regularly exposed to a variety of phthalates, which are endocrine-disrupting chemicals, the researchers warned. (IANS)

Next Story

Researchers Find Synthetic Fibers The Major Contributors of Environmental Pollution

Synthetic fibres are petroleum-based products, unlike natural fibres such as wool, cotton and silk, which are recyclable and biodegradable. 

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plastic
Synthetic fibres are petroleum-based products, unlike natural fibres such as wool, cotton and silk, which are recyclable and biodegradable.  Pixabay

Polyester and other synthetic fibres like nylon are major contributors of microplastics pollution in the environment, say researchers and suggest switching to biosynthetic fibres to prevent this.

“These materials, during production, processing and after use, break down and release microfibres that can now be found in everything and everyone,” said Melik Demirel, Professor at the Pennsylvania State University in the US.

Synthetic fibres are petroleum-based products, unlike natural fibres such as wool, cotton and silk, which are recyclable and biodegradable.

plastic
Bacteria that consume plastics do exist. However, they are currently at the academic research phase and will take some time to gain industrial momentum. Pixabay

Mixed fibres that contain both natural and synthetic fibres are difficult or costly to recycle.

In the oceans, pieces of microscopic plastic are consumed by plants and animals and enter the human food chain through harvested fish.

In the study, Demirel suggested few things to prevent this: minimising the use of synthetic fibres and switching to natural fibres such as wool, cotton, silk and linen, even though synthetic fibres are less expensive and natural fibres have other environmental costs, such as water and land-use issues; large scale use of bacteria that could aid in biodegradation of the fibres for reuse; substituting synthetic fibres with biosynthetic fibres, that are both recyclable and biodegradable; and blending synthetic fibres with natural fibres to lend them durability while also allowing the blends to be recycled.

plastic
Polyester and other synthetic fibres like nylon are major contributors of microplastics pollution in the environment, say researchers and suggest switching to biosynthetic fibres to prevent this. Pixabay

Also Read: Patients Going Through Gender-Transition Treatment At A Grater Risk Of Cardiac Diseases

Bacteria that consume plastics do exist. However, they are currently at the academic research phase and will take some time to gain industrial momentum.

The study was presented at the 2019 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in the US. (IANS)