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Personal care products increase risks for newborns: research

2019/03/11 22:29:02

Image taken from Pixabay

Taipei, March 11 (CNA) Pregnant women who use scented personal care products (PCPs) like lipsticks, skin toners and essential oils may increase the risks of allergic diseases for their newborn babies, Taiwan's National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) said in a study Monday.

The study named "Personal care products use and phthalate exposure levels among pregnant women" stated that personal care products are usually scented, but even those which claim to be made from natural fragrance may actually contain di-ethyl phthalate (DEP), which is commonly used as a fixative, a chemical substance used to preserve or stabilize material.

Wang Shu-li (王淑麗), a research fellow at the NHRI's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), found that some newborn babies' umbilical cord blood had concentrations of phthalates, and the more phthalates found in the pregnant soon-to-be-mother's urine, the more of the chemicals were found in the newborn baby.

This demonstrated that a pregnant mother's exposure to phthalates has potential effects on her infant's health, said Wang.

From 2012-2015, Wang's research team conducted a birth cohort study, which begins at or before the birth of the babies, of 1,676 pregnant women from 10 hospitals across Taiwan.

The study found a trend that women who used leave-on products like lipsticks, skin toners and essential oils were exposed to higher concentrations of mono-ethyl phthalate (MEP).

Although MEP does not accumulate in the human body, follow-up studies have shown that exposure such phthalates may cause allergy-related diseases for infants, such as upper respiratory tract infection, asthma and lung problems.

Previous research has proven that exposure to phthalates may cause distraction in endocrine function, Wang said.

She added that the study's findings suggest that pregnant women should not put more than six kinds of PCPs on their skin every day, especially products with fragrance.

The research team suggested that one can drink more water and do exercise to discharge phthalates in their body through urine and sweat.

Wang's research was done in collaboration with National Yang-Ming University, Kaohsiung Medical University and Tzu Chi University. It was published in Science of the Total Environment, an international science journal, in January.

(By Wu Po-hsun, Chen Ching-fang and Emerson Lim)
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