A US study printed in journal Human Reproduction has reported that girls within the womb that are subjected to chemicals most commonly found in toothpaste, make-up, soap and other personal care products are more likely to reach puberty earlier.
A total of 338 children in California took part in a long-term study from birth through to adolescence, with researchers testing the levels of chemicals such as parabens, triclosan and phenols in the mothers during pregnancy as well as the children from birth until adolescence. The children had their urine tested at nine years with the participants then tested for signs of puberty development between the ages of 9 to 13 years old.
The results found 90 percent of children tested positive for concentrations of all potentially hormone-altering chemicals bar triclosan. This was found in 73 percent of the pregnant mother’s urine as well as 69 percent of their children.
Lead study author Kim Harley, Associate Director of the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health 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.
“Specifically, we found that mothers who had higher levels of two chemicals in their bodies during pregnancy – diethyl phthalate, which is used in fragrance, and triclosan, which is an antibacterial agent in certain soaps and toothpaste – had daughters who entered puberty earlier.
“We also found that girls with higher levels of parabens in their bodies at the age of nine entered puberty earlier.
“This is important because we know that the age at which puberty starts in girls has been getting earlier in the last few decades; one hypothesis is that chemicals in the environment might be playing a role, and our findings support this idea.
“Earlier puberty in girls increases their risk of mental health problems and risk-taking behaviour as teenagers and increases their risk of breast and ovarian cancer over the long-term, so this is an important issue to address.”