Prenatal exposure to toothpaste, make-up chemical advances girls’ puberty

Prenatal exposure to toothpaste, make-up chemical advances girls’ puberty

Young girls are hitting puberty at an increasingly younger age, and a study has claimed it is the chemicals they are exposed to in make-up, as well as other beauty and household products, which are the culprit.

The study found that in-vitro exposure to chemicals in personal care products such as phthalates - found in scented products like perfumes, soaps and shampoos - parabens - used as preservatives in cosmetics - and phenols - which include triclosan - advances pubertal age in girls.

They followed 338 of their children from birth to adolescence.

The team studied the levels of chemicals in the mothers during pregnancy and in the children at nine years old.

Over 90 percent of kids' urine samples showed concentrations of all the potentially hormone-altering chemicals, except for triclosan, which was found in 73 percent of pregnant mothers' urine samples and 69 percent of their kids' urine samples. Boys were seemingly unaffected by prenatal exposure to the chemicals, according to the study.

Lead author and public health associate professor Kim Harley, at the University of California, Berkeley, said: "We found evidence that some chemicals widely used in personal care products are associated with earlier puberty in girls".

When the researchers looked at the urine samples taken from the children at the age of nine, they found that for every doubling in the concentrations of parabens, the timings of breast and pubic hair development and first menstrual period all shifted about one month earlier.

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Reference Association of phthalates, parabens and phenols found in personal care products with pubertal timing in girls and boys.

The researchers found that the girls' breasts and pubic hair developed early and also had their menses at a younger age.

"We wanted to know what effect exposure to these chemicals has during certain critical windows of development, which include before birth and during puberty", Harley added. The antimicrobial agent triclosan - which the FDA banned from use in hand soap in 2017 because it was shown to be ineffective - is still used in some toothpastes. Consumers should make sure it's not a listed ingredient on any toothpaste they buy, she advised.

Triclosan, a chemical added to personal-care products to prevent bacterial contamination, has been linked to reduced heart health and an underactive thyroid. Researchers also find a link between these chemicals and the increased incidence of diseases such as cancer and autoimmune diseases.

She said: 'We know the age at which puberty starts in girls has been getting earlier in the last few decades and one theory is that chemicals in the environment might be playing a role.

"Their effects on the hormonal system is different with different chemicals, they have different potencies, their effects can be modulated by other factors such as genetic predisposition, and importantly, their effects can be different depending on the timing of the exposure", Claudio, who wasn't involved in the study, said by email.

"The effects of these chemicals are very complex", said Dr. Luz Claudio of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

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