Child Exposure to Household Chemicals May Be Tied to Language Delays

By ASHA Staff
May 6, 2020

A new study links children’s exposure to toxic chemicals via household cleaners with potential language and developmental delays in the children, according to a study in Clinical Pediatrics.

Researchers from Ohio State University (OSU) analyzed data collected from 190 families participating in the Kids in Columbus Study, a research project that followed children in low-income families in Columbus for five years after birth.

Mothers completed questionnaires on toxicant exposure in the home via their use of such household chemicals as floor cleaners, toilet cleaners, and solvents. The researchers also asked about exposure to pesticides and mold in the home. The study measured children’s language development at ages 14-23 months, and again at ages 20-25 months.

About 20% of mothers reported exposure to toxicants (especially pesticides) at or around pregnancy, and 30% when their children were 1-2 years old. This exposure was significantly associated with delays in language and cognitive development, even when researchers controlled for socioeconomic status.

“When kids reach about 2 years old, that is a peak time for brain development,” says study co-author Laura Justice, professor of educational psychology at OSU and executive director of The Crane Center. “If the use of toxic chemicals is interfering with that development, that could lead to problems with language and cognitive growth.”