Researchers from the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology found that women with high levels of a potentially toxic chemical found in fried potatoes gave birth to substantially smaller children.

More than 1,000 women and babies from England, Denmark, Greece, Norway and Spain were tested for levels of acrylamide, which is present in chips and crisps, and those born to mothers with a high intake were 132g lighter with heads 0.33cm smaller than those with a low intake.

The Barcelona-based researchers say this is the first study showing the links between acrylamide consumption and birthing outcomes.

They went on to explain that the size of a child's head has been associated with delayed neurodevelopment, while lower birth weights have been associated with adverse health effects in early life and as children grow up.

Data on babies in England was taken from a study of more than 13,500 babies conducted by the Bradford Institute for Health Research.

Dr Laura Hardie, who took part in the Born in Bradford Study said: "We found that these [Bradford] babies had the highest levels of acrylamide out of all the five centres - almost twice the level of the Danish babies.

"When we investigated their diet it was clear that the largest source of dietary acrylamide is from chips and the effect of acrylamide is comparable with the adverse effect of smoking on birth weight."

Posted 28/10/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com