A recent study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has found a possible link between a common kind of flame retardant material and a lower IVF success rate in women.
The study looked at organophosphate flame retardants (PFRs) often found in yoga mats, upholstered furniture, and even baby products, which are easily transferred to the human body via dust particles.
Between 2005 and 2015, researchers analysed urine samples of 211 women undergoing IVF at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Centre and found that 80% of them had traces of PFRs present.
Further, women with high concentrations of these chemicals were 10% less likely to have a successful fertilisation and 31% reduced probability of implantation of the embryo. They also had 41% less chance of a clinical pregnancy and a 38% decreased chance of a live birth.
Study author Courtney Carignan, a research fellow in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard Chan School, said that the findings suggest that exposure to PFRs could be one of the many risk factors for reproductive success.
“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 Russ Hauser, Frederick Lee Hisaw professor of reproductive physiology and acting chair, Department of Environmental Health.
Although the researchers say that it adds to the body of evidence indicating a need to reduce the use of these flame retardants, there’s no need to freak out entirely. There are many factors that influence fertility so speak to a medical professional if you are struggling to fall pregnant.