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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 June, 2004, 06:28 GMT 07:28 UK
Chemical 'harms' young brains
brain generic
The study has raised many concerns about the use of chemicals
The brain development of many children in Wales may be harmed by everyday man-made chemicals, according to a new report.

Research by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Wales has shown that some substances found in consumer products can cause problems for children - including reduced movement skills, poor memory and a lower IQ.

Details of studies showing that chemicals are seriously impacting on children's intelligence across Europe are highlighted today by WWF Cymru.

More than 150 Welsh volunteers underwent blood tests as part of the study.

The new report, Compromising our Children, brings together the latest research on the impacts of commonly-used man-made chemicals.

Our children are our future - and our future is under threat
Morgan Parry, WWF Cymru

It reveals that some chemicals harm child brain development and co-ordination at levels that have been found in some of the general public.

The report shows that in the European Union, the effects include poorer memory, reduced visual recognition, and less well-developed movement skills.

The European Commission now regards the occurrence of developmental and learning disabilities as a "significant public health problem".

But WWF Cymru believes that most chemicals on the market do not carry sufficient safety information - particularly about their ability to cause developmental problems.

Morgan Parry, Head of WWF Cymru, said: "It seems unbelievable that although science has shown that chemicals are affecting children's mental abilities and their ability to make sense of their world, we are still missing vital safety data on most chemicals in use.

"In Wales, we took blood samples from mothers and grandmothers which demonstrated the extent to which we are all contaminated by a cocktail of hazardous chemicals.

"The fact that these chemicals are being passed onto children during pregnancy and affecting their intelligence and behaviour is unacceptable. In effect we are all living in a global chemical experiment of which we don't know the outcome.

'Exposed unexpectedly'

"Our children are our future - and our future is under threat."

Gail Stewart, a practice nurse in Pontcanna, Cardiff, was one of 155 volunteers that participated in the WWF blood survey last year.

She said she was taken aback by the findings.

"As a mother of three children, I'm shocked to discover that, despite following a strict organic diet, I've been exposed unexpectedly to harmful chemicals that I may have passed onto my children through pregnancy and breast feeding.

"WWF's report demonstrates the impact these chemicals have on children's intelligence and behaviour, but will the European Union act on these findings or will they continue to allow our children to be guinea pigs in this uncontrolled chemicals experiment?"




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