Think quickly: when was the last time you bought packaged food at your local grocery store? We bet it wasn’t that long ago. But besides the questionable nutrition contents of processed food (honestly, what is in Velveeta anyway?), we now have another reason to stay away from food packaging. A study recently released by researchers at Columbia University found that the chemical phthalates, commonly found in food packaging, plastic toys, and bottles as a way to make plastics more pliable, is actually linked to lower IQs in the children of women exposed to the plastic during pregnancy.
The researchers explained that they tried to take out many of the environmental variables but still found the link to two varieties of the chemical and brain development. According to NBC Today, the children of moms with the highest levels of those two chemicals scored, on average, four points lower on the IQ test than kids whose mothers had the lowest levels.
According to the researchers, phthalates can affect the brain’s development pretty easily, due to the fact that the chemical itself is actually pretty disruptive, and can affect hormonal growth in young children. The CDC, meanwhile, seems to not know the exact implications of long-term exposure to phthalates.