Babies in the womb are being contaminated with hazardous chemicals, flame retardants, perfumes and other gender-bending substances, according to a report out today.

Tests on blood taken from the umbilical cords of nearly 30 newborns and from more than 40 new mothers were analysed for the presence of eight groups of chemicals, ranging from artificial musks used in cosmetics and cleaning products, to flame retardants and chemicals used to make plastics and non-stick and waterproof coatings.

The report, A Present for Life: hazardous chemicals in cord blood, from WWF- UK and Greenpeace, says babies are being exposed to these chemicals at the most vulnerable point in their development.

It also calls for urgent action to be taken to control the production and sale of those chemicals that may damage the health of babies and adults alike.

Every single sample of mother or baby blood tested positive for an array of chemicals, many of which are suspected of links to health problems ranging from birth defects and genital abnormalities to certain types of cancer.

All umbilical cords contained a minimum of five of the 35 chemicals tested for, some contained as many as 14. Two of the mothers tested had 17 of the 35 chemicals in their blood.

The report also highlights the possible effects of chemicals on children's brain development and intelligence.

Most of the chemicals are found in everyday products like cleaning fluids and sprays, tin can linings, perfumes and cosmetics and even baby bottles. Others include banned pesticides, such as DDT, that have lingered in the environment for decades.