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Household chemicals could affect children's development

Researchers say the products could increase the risk of language delays

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Photo (c) MartinPrescott - Getty Images
Recent studies have found how household cleaning products can negatively affect children’s health, and now a new study conducted by researchers from Ohio State University found that they can also affect toddlers’ development. 

The researchers found that children were more likely to experience cognitive and language delays when they were regularly exposed to toxic household chemicals. 

“We found that a significant percentage of mothers with young children may commonly expose their children to toxic household chemicals, possibly because they are unaware that such materials may be harmful,” said researcher Hui Jiang. “A lot of mothers seem to know to limit exposure to toxic chemicals during pregnancy, but once their child is born, they may think it is no longer a problem.” 

Protecting children

To determine what effect typical household cleaners can have on kids’ development, the researchers had nearly 200 families participate in the study. 

Mothers were asked to report on the kinds of cleaning products they used in the home at two different intervals: during pregnancy and then again when their children were between one and two years old. This also included their use of pesticides in or around the home and any potential neighborhood influences that their children could be exposed to. 

The children were assessed twice by the researchers. In the first meeting, the team checked children’s language skills when they were between one and two years old. This was repeated in the second meeting when the children got closer to the two-year-old mark. 

The researchers found that more women opted to reintroduce household cleaners after their children were born, which played a role in their toddlers’ language and cognitive development. The study found that regular exposure to cleaners with toxic chemicals was associated with language and cognitive delays at the two-year-old check-in. 

“When kids reach about two years old, that is a peak time for brain development,” said researcher Laura Justice. “If the use of toxic chemicals is interfering with that development, that could lead to problems with language and cognitive growth.” 

Moving forward, the researchers hope that these findings highlight how serious exposure to cleaning materials can be for young ones. 

“Parents need to understand the delicacy of brain development in the first several years of life and their children’s susceptibility to chemical exposure,” said Justice. 

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