Mom's use of antibacterial products may pose health risk to unborn baby

A new study found that chemical compounds in antibacterial products can affect the unborn children of pregnant mothers who use them, Medical Daily reported.

Researchers from SUNY Downstate School of Public Health took urine and cord blood samples from 184 women in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The results, reported at the 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, found that the antibacterial triclosan appeared in the urine of every woman tested in the study, and another antibacterial chemical, triclocarban, appeared in more than 85 percent of the samples. The researchers also reported that triclosan was present in more than half the samples of umbilical cord blood taken from the participants.

"We looked at the exposure of pregnant women and their fetuses to triclosan and triclocarban, two of the most commonly used germ-killers in soaps and other everyday products," said Dr. Benny Pycke, a research scientists at Arizona State University, in a press release. "We found triclosan in all of the urine samples from the pregnant women that we screened. We also detected it in about half of the umbilical cord blood samples.”

Originally classified as a pesticide in the 1960s, triclosan’s powerful antimicrobial properties have made it a popular ingredient in the production of antibacterial products. Today, triclosan and triclocarban can be found in thousands of over-the-counter products from soaps and detergents to cosmetics and even toys.

Studies in animals have shown that both triclosan and triclocarban can disrupt hormones needed for neural and reproductive development, as well as create drug resistance in bacteria, according to the report.  And while the human body is capable of flushing out these compounds, researchers said the amount of exposure humans have to them may be cause for concern.

"If you cut off the source of exposure, eventually triclosan and triclocarban would quickly be diluted out, but the truth is that we have universal use of these chemicals, and therefore also universal exposure," lead investigator Dr. Rolf Halden said in a release.

Study authors also noted that women with high levels of the antimicrobial compound butyl paraben, commonly found in cosmetics, gave birth to shorter babies -- but said more studies are needed to confirm those findings.

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