Children exposed to the widely used pesticide additive piperonyl butoxide (PBO) in their mother's womb have heightened risk of non-infectious cough, when they reach the age of five or six years, according to US researchers.
The PBO is an organic compound mixed with pyrethroid pesticides, is often used for pest control. It is also found in a wide range of household insecticides, including sprays and lice treatment shampoos.
These findings from Columbia Centre for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH), support the premise that the children's respiratory system is susceptible to damage from toxic exposures during the prenatal period. A common symptom, childhood cough can disrupt normal daytime activities and interrupt sleep for both, child and parents.
Accordingly, Rachel Miller and colleagues from the CCCEH of the Columbia University Medical Centre, sought to explore the effects of subsequent exposure to PBO during childhood, the journal Environment International reports.
They looked at 224 mother-child pairs enrolled in the CCCEH birth cohort study of environmental exposures, examining measures of PBO and pyrethroid in personal air monitors worn by the mothers during pregnancy, according to a CCCEH statement.
Air samples also were collected from the home over the two weeks when children were between five and six years old. Questionnaires were used to evaluate respiratory outcomes.
Researchers found that children exposed to PBO during pregnancy had increased odds of reporting cough unrelated to cold or flu. Exposures to PBO during childhood were not a factor.