Chemicals that are commonly used in personal care products linked to girls entering puberty early
A new study conducted by University of California, Berkeley in the US, has found a link between chemicals in personal care products and early puberty.
It says that girls exposed to chemicals commonly found in toothpaste, makeup, soap and other personal care products before birth, may hit puberty earlier.
The study which was published in the journal Human Reproduction, shows an association between phthalates, parabens and phenols and precocious puberty in girls.
Phthalates are fixing agents in scented products like deodorants and perfumes, and to prevent cracking in nail polish. They are also used in plastic packaging. Parabens are a family of compounds that are widely used as preservatives. Meanwhile, phenols, notably triclosan and benzophenone, are used to enhance the durability of some products and as antimicrobial agents.
“Over the past 20 years, studies have shown that girls and possibly boys have been experiencing puberty at progressively younger ages”
“Over the past 20 years, studies have shown that girls and possibly boys have been experiencing puberty at progressively younger ages,” the researchers said in a statement. “This is troubling news, as earlier age at puberty has been linked with increased risk of mental illness, breast and ovarian cancer in girls and testicular cancer in boys.”
For the study, the researchers hired pregnant women living in the farm-working, primarily Latino communities of Central California’s Salinas Valley between 1999 and 2000. They then examined the mom’s urine samples during their pregnancy and the urine samples of the 338 children born.
After analyzing the results, they found daughters of mothers who had higher levels of diethyl phthalate and triclosan in their bodies while pregnant experienced puberty at younger ages.
The researchers found that higher concentrations of diethyl phthalate and triclosan in prenatal urine was associated with changes in the timing of children’s development milestones.
In daughters, it was associated with early appearance of pubic hair, a month and three weeks earlier than a typical baseline, with every doubling of the concentration. Doubling of the levels of triclosan were associated with menstruation a month earlier than average.
Previous research on rats has shown that phenols, parabens and phthalates are endocrine disruptors that can negatively affect the functioning of hormones in the body. This study further highlights the potential impact that these chemicals can have on the natural development of children.