Girls may experience delayed menstruation after prenatal exposure to perfluoroalkyl, a chemical found in nonstick cookware like Teflon, and stain-resistant materials, reports Environmental Health News.
Research on the issue comes out of Denmark where the first study of its kind looked at the long-term impact on reproductive health after exposure to the chemical, which collects in human tissue and the environment. “Since [the compounds] can be detected in humans all over the world, effects of prenatal exposure on female reproductive function later in life may have wide health implications,” the authors wrote.
The team tested blood from pregnant women between 1988 and 1989. They then surveyed the women's daughters twenty years later. "Maternal levels of the chemicals were used as a proxy for prenatal exposure because the chemicals cross the placental barrier from mother to fetus," reports EHN.
With the average age being 13.2 years for the onset of their menstrual cycles, the girls exposed to the highest levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) started their menstrual cycles an average of 5.3 months later than the girls whose mothers were exposed to much lower levels. The study did not conclude whether or not delayed menstrual cycles would cause other reproductive health issues for the girls, but according to EHN, "previous research has pinpointed PFOA exposure to reduced fertility, delayed puberty and earlier onset of menopause."
While PFOA is found in cookware and containers, the EPA suggests that exposure may be more likely due to emissions of manufacturing chemicals polluting the air. Manufacturers including DuPont have agreed to eliminate PFOA emissions by 2015.
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