In May 2018 researchers from the USA and Canada published their review of the medical scientific literature to assess the effect of polybrominated diphenyl ethers on behaviour development in children. A total of 19 studies, which looked at the association between prenatal and childhood levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers and assessed behaviour in children from 1-12 years, including executive function, attention, externalizing and internalizing behaviors, adaptive skills, and social behaviours/Autism Spectrum Disorder, were included in the review. Results showed that exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers during pregnancy was associated with impairments in executive function and poorer attention control in children. In addition, studies involving a large number of participants showed that both prenatal and postnatal exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers had an adverse effect on externalizing behaviour causing, for example, hyperactivity and conduct problems. The researchers concluded by stating that additional research is required to assess whether polybrominated diphenyl ethers are associated with internalizing problems and social behaviour/Autism Spectrum Disorder in children, whether there are any neurotoxic effects of exposure during adolescence and also what the impact is of alternative flame retardants.
Vuong AM et al. Exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and child behavior: Current findings and future directions. Horm Behav. 2018 May;101:94-104.