Chemicals found in everyday products may be harmful to pregnant women

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – According to recent studies published in the International Journal of Hygiene Environmental Health and Reproductive Toxicology has linked a group of chemicals found in many plastics are harmful to women’s reproductive system. Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in making plastics products such as flooring or toys, to gelling agents in personal care products.

Phthalates are used in personal hygiene care products to bond the substances in shampoos, lotions, fragrances, and body wash to stay lubricated, softer with increase spreadability while enhancing absorption, and making fragrances last longer.

Three studies led by a University at Albany Ph.D. student Thoin Begum found that greater exposure in the use of phthalates (MBP, MHxP, and MEHP) specific to personal care products, was associated with lower likelihoods of a successful pregnancy and live birth. Yet, Begum says those products are not often on warning lists to avoid by women who are pregnant and or couples planning a pregnancy.

“Animal studies have shown that phthalates are reproductive toxicants, so we wanted to determine if phthalates are linked to any reproductive outcomes in humans,” said Begum.

According to Begum, Phthalates are known to be disruptors to the endocrine system but the extent and exact outcomes of the exposure are still relatively unknown. He says of the three studies conducted, several of the environmental chemicals used are indeed harmful to the reproductive process and can have harmful effects on the human fetus.

The analysis showed that women who applied several lotions, moisturizers, and other personal care products had lower exposures to phthalates, while women who applied nail polish and perfume had high levels of exposure to phthalates in their bodies, said Begum.

Male partners of the women who used lotions and moisturizers were also associated with high levels of exposure to phthalates. This indicates, Begum says, that both women and men faced the same types of exposure to phthalates through the use of personal care products.

“Pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy, including the woman’s partner, should limit their exposure to these chemicals by not using products such as nail polish and perfume, cologne, hair dyes, and a slew of other personal care products,” Begum said. “Interestingly enough, and of concern, these things are often not on the list provided by doctors of things couples should avoid during a pregnancy or while planning one.”

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