Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), which can be found in microwave popcorn bags, destroy the efficacy of some critical childhood vaccinations. The study appears in the January 25th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Stable compounds with industrial and commercial uses, PFCs’ ubiquity spans many common household products such as furniture, cosmetics, and food packaging, as well as in stain-resistance coatings and fire-fighting foams. The dangerous chemicals have previously been linked to early-onset menopause, which can leave women at a potential increased risk for heart disease, according to a prior study from the West Virginia University School of Medicine. Industry maintains the chemical’s safety.
This new study has found that the ubiquitous compounds could cause childhood vaccines from working appropriately, said MSNBC. According to the research, children who tested with increased PFC blood levels also had decreased immune responses to diphtheria and tetanus vaccines, said MSNBC. At issue is that an decreased immune response to a vaccination can leave a child vulnerable to the disease that the vaccine is meant to fight. Study authors concluded that antibody levels in some children exposed to PFCs revealed that those children, by age seven, were not protected against the diseases from which they were vaccinated.
“When we take our kids to the doctor’s office to get their shots, we expect that the vaccines are going to work,” said study researcher Dr. Philippe Grandjean, of the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, wrote MSNBC. “What we found was that there was an increasing risk that they didn’t work if the kids had been exposed to the PFCs,” Dr. Grandjean added.
The team analyzed data from 587 children who live the Faroe Islands, which are located in the northern Atlantic Ocean between Scotland and Iceland, said MSNBC. The islands were chosen because of the residents’ seafood consumption; that seafood is typically linked to increased PFC exposure; and that overall PFC levels in this area mirror those in other countries, including the United States, Grandjean pointed out.
PFC blood levels from five-year-old children were tested along with immune responses to tetanus and diphtheria vaccines when the children were five and seven years of age, said MSNBC. The children received full vaccines against these diseases and a booster shot at age five. The research revealed that the higher the PFC blood levels, the lower the response to the vaccination. As a matter-of-fact, children with the highest PFC levels were also two-to-four times likelier to test with antibodies in their blood at levels below what is believed to sufficient to protect against the diseases, said MSNBC.
In animal studies, the compounds have been linked to cancers and thyroid disease and the PFCs found in nonstick frying pans have killed birds and created flu-like symptoms in people when under high heat. The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also discussed its concern over PFCs’ long-term effects in humans and on wildlife and we previously about a Boston University School of Public Health study that found a potential link between PFCs and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a neurodevelopmental disorder in children. Of concern is that PFCs can take years to be even partially eliminated once absorbed in the body.