Pregnant Women and Cosmetics

According to new research, many pregnant women’s bodies are polluted with chemicals found in cosmetics. Growing concerns over the exposure of pregnant women to chemicals that may lead to birth defects have prompted calls for a new cosmetics labeling system in the European Union which aim to mark out some products as prohibited to those women who are pregnant or nursing.

Partners at the Washington Toxics Coalition, the Commonweal, and the Toxic-Free Legacy Coalition reported that chemicals in cosmetics that can disrupt development and hormonal systems were found in all nine of the pregnant women who participated in a recent biomonitoring study. It is already widely known that chemicals can be passed from mother to fetus, but now one of the latest distresses is finding the serious, long-lasting impacts cosmetics can have on the future health of mothers and their babies.

A different study found that women exposed to high-levels of hairspray during pregnancy were twice as likely to have babies born with hypospadias- a condition in which the urinary tract grows on the underside of the penis. Studies concerning this condition suggest that the birth defects were linked to the chemicals in the hairspray that have shown to alter the hormonal systems of the body; ultimately affecting reproductive development of fetus’. And that’s just one product! Parabens, for example, are chemicals which act as preservatives in makeup and other cosmetic products, have also been found to affect hormone levels and in some cases act as contributors to the formation of cancerous breast tissue (parabens found in deodorant).

On a positive note, scientists have backed the labeling scheme- "labels enable people to make informed choices. In the vulnerable period of pregnancy, it makes sense for people to reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals," said Professor Paul Elliott of Imperial College London, who led the hairspray study, "it is part of a broader discussion about minimizing chemical exposure in early pregnancy."

Works Cited:

“Pregnant women warned off make-up,” Shields, Rachel. 30 Nov 2008. The Independent. Website.