Chemical Substances Lower The IQ Level

November 3, 2021

The chemical bisphenol F (found in plastics) can induce changes in a gene vital for neurodevelopment. This discovery has been made by researchers from the universities of Uppsala and Karlstad (Sweden). The mechanism could explain why exposure to this chemical during the fetal stage may be related to a lower IQ at seven years of age, an association previously observed by the same research group. The study is published in the scientific journal  Environment International .

‘We had previously shown that bisphenol F (abbreviated BPF) may be related to the cognitive development of children. However, with this study, we can now begin to understand what biological mechanisms can explain this relationship, which is unique for an epidemiological study. ” The speaker is Carl Gustaf Bornehag, Professor and Director of Public Health Sciences at Karlstad University. He is the project manager of the Swedish study Environmental Longitudinal Mother and Child, Asthma and Allergy (SELMA), from which the data were extracted.

External factors can cause changes in gene activity through an “epigenetic” mechanism. This means that individual genes are modified through “methylation.” Increased methylation in a DNA segment makes it difficult for the cellular machinery to read that specific part. As a result, the expression of methylated genes is often affected.

The scientists measured the levels of FBP in the urine of the pregnant women in the first trimester and subsequently monitored their children after birth. DNA methylation was measured in children at age seven and their cognitive ability was investigated. As the fetus comes into contact with the mother’s blood through the placenta, it is also exposed to substances in the mother’s body.

The analyzes showed that in fetuses exposed to higher levels of FBP, methylation increases in a specific part of the GRIN2B gene, which has a key neurological function. Furthermore, higher methylation was associated with lower IQ in children. However, the study also found that there appears to be a sex difference in the susceptibility of these children to GMP. The epigenetic link between BPF and cognition was observed only in males.

“The fact that we have been able to identify DNA methylation as a potential mechanism behind the effect of BPF on IQ adds important evidence at work to understand how environmental chemicals affect us at the molecular level,” says Elin Engdahl, researcher in environmental toxicology at the University of Uppsala and main author of the article.

In the research group’s previous study, they found that 25% of seven-year-olds who, during the 10th week of pregnancy, were exposed to the highest maternal levels of bisphenol F had a two-point drop in IQ full-scale compared to 25% of children exposed to the lowest levels. This is a small difference that is not perceptible in an individual child but is instead evident at the population level.

Dr. Loony Davis5
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Born and raised in Brussels in an English family, I have always lived in a multicultural environment. After several work experiences in marketing and communication, I came to Smart Water Magazine, which I describe as the most exciting challenge of my career.
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