Symptoms of mothers and infants related to total volatile organic compounds in household products

Arch Environ Health. 2003 Oct;58(10):633-41. doi: 10.3200/AEOH.58.10.633-641.


The authors sought to determine whether reported symptoms of mothers and infants were associated significantly with the use of household products that raised indoor levels of total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs). Data collected from 170 homes within the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC: a large birth cohort of more than 10,000) had determined which household products were associated with the highest levels of TVOCs. The latter data were collected over a period that approximated 6 mo of pregnancy and the infants' first 6 mo of life. This paper presents (a) the mothers' self-reports of the use of these products in their homes and (b) self-reported medical symptoms of mothers and infants postnatally. Higher TVOC levels were associated with air freshener and aerosol use. Infant diarrhea and earache were statistically significantly associated with air freshener use, and diarrhea and vomiting were significantly associated with aerosol use. Headache experienced by mothers 8 mo after birth was significantly associated with the use of air fresheners and aerosols; maternal depression was significantly associated with the use of air fresheners. The results of the study suggest a link between the use of products that raise indoor levels of TVOCs and an increased risk of certain symptoms among infants and their mothers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects*
  • Depression / chemically induced
  • Diarrhea, Infantile / chemically induced
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Earache / chemically induced
  • Female
  • Headache / chemically induced
  • Household Products / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Pregnancy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Volatilization
  • Vomiting / chemically induced


  • Aerosols