Use of personal care products during pregnancy linked to adverse effects in newborns

A study led by SUNY Downstate Medical Center’s School of Public Health presents evidence linking personal care products used during pregnancy to adverse reproductive effects in newborns.                                

“The study found a link between women with higher levels of butyl paraben, which is commonly used as a preservative in cosmetics, and the following birth outcomes: shorter gestational age at birth, decreased birth weight, and increased odds of preterm birth,” says Laura Geer, PhD, MHS, associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at SUNY Downstate.

The antimicrobial compound, triclocarban, mainly added to soaps, was associated with shorter gestational age at birth. Another common chemical added to lotions and creams, propyl paraben, was associated with decreased body length at birth. The long-term consequences of this are not clear, and, Geer adds, “Findings must be reproduced in larger studies.”

The study was a collaboration with SUNY Downstate’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the Center for Environmental Security at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, directed by professor Rolf Halden, PhD, a noted expert in the study of antimicrobial chemicals. The findings are available online and will be published in a Special Issue “Emerging Contaminants” in the Journal of Hazardous Materials.

Five chemicals to avoid in your skin care

Many of our skin care products are full of chemicals, unpronouceable names of ingredients that we have no idea what they do for good or bad.  We just keep using the lotion or shampoo or deodorant without realizing its negative effects.  Below is a part one of a list of ten chemicals to avoid in your skin care and why.  This list is far from exhaustive; it is just to get your started in your own search of what to avoid.

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1)  Triclosan and Triclocarban:  These two are antimicrobial in liquid soap (triclosan) and bar soap (triclocarban). Theyare also in antiperspirants/deodorants, cleansers, and hand sanitizers as a preservative and an anti-bacterial agent. They are known to disrupt the thyroid and reproductive hormones and are also toxic to the aquatic environment.  You know that anti-bacterial soap you use?  Get rid of it and get back to good old non-antibacterial soap and water. 1

2)  BHA (not to be confused with BPA) which stands for butylated hydroxyanisole and BHT.  These are closely related synthetic antioxidants which are used as preservatives in lipsticks and moisturizers.  They encourage the breakdown of vitamins such as vitamin d, can cause lipid and cholesterol levels to increase, and are an  endocrine disruptor.  They are toxic. 2

3) Sodium Lauryl Sulfates-This synthetic substance is used in shampoos and liquid soapss for its detergent and foam-building abilities. It causes eye irritations, skin rashes, hair loss, scalp scurf similar to dandruff, and allergic reactions. It is frequently disguised in pseudo-natural cosmetics with the parenthetic explanation “comes from coconut”, but it is not coconut oil. 3  
‘It may also react with other ingredients to form more toxic chemicals, such as a carcinogen called NDELA (N-nitrosodiethanolamines), she says. SLS may also irritate and damage the natural skin barrier and eat away at hair follicles and impair your hair’s growth.“4

4)  Synthetic Fragrances

The Organic Consumers Association says synthetic fragrances used in skin care products can contain as many as 200 ingredients and there is no way to know exactly what makes up the fragrance ingredient since labels only state "fragrance.” Synthetic fragrances contain chemicals that can cause skin irritation, rash, dizziness, vomiting, coughing and hyperpigmentation in some people. 5

5) 1,4-DIOXANE, a chemical carcinogen, is created when ingredients are processed with petroleum-derived ethylene oxide. Common ethoxylated compounds include sodium laureth sulfate and polyethylene glycol (often listed as PEG). To avoid it, skip any product with the following ingredients: myreth, oleth, laureth, ceteareth (or any other -eth), PEG, polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, or oxynol. 6

Convinced yet?  Take a look at your personal care products over the weekend and see what you might want to toss.  I hope to cover more of these destructive chemicals next week as well as begin to introduce the products we do want to use, things like coconut oil and shea butter and olive oil.






Shared at Wildcrafting Wednesday.