Couples using IVF told to avoid common household chemical
Certain flame retardants could have an impact on fertility, a new study has shown.
Flame retardants are found in many polyurethane foam products including upholstered furniture, car seats, computer casings and gym mats.
They serve an important purpose in helping to prevent fires, but researchers have warned anyone trying to get pregnant to avoid them where possible.
A Harvard University study analysed urine samples from 211 women undergoing fertility treatments at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Most of the women were found to have traces of flame retardant chemicals in their urine.
The study showed that the women with the highest levels of these chemicals were 40 per cent less likely to become pregnant or have a live birth.
The flame retardants in question are organophosphate flame retardants (PFRs), a newer type of chemical designed to replace older, more dangerous flame retardants.
"These findings suggest that exposure to PFRs may be one of many risk factors for lower reproductive success," said first author of the study, Courtney Carignan.
"Couples undergoing IVF and trying to improve their chances of success by reducing their exposure to environmental chemicals may want to opt for products that are flame-retardant free," added senior author Dr Russ Hauser, a professor of reproductive physiology at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
An estimated one in six Irish couples struggle with fertility.