Early exposure to household products such as cleaning fluids, soaps and cosmetics could be causing early puberty in girls, says a new study. The research was conducted by the University of California to study the impact of chemicals used in day-to-day products on the timing of pubertal onset in boys and girls. The findings of the study was published in the journal Human Reproduction. It studied the effects of chemicals like phthalates, parabens and phenols using urine tests.
For the study, the researchers enrolled pregnant women of mostly Latin heritage between the years 1999-2000, living below the poverty threshold, without a high school diploma. The researchers then studied the concentration of three phthalate metabolites and four phenols in the urine collected from these mothers during pregnancy and from the children during age nine.
A total of 179 girls and 159 boys were tested every nine months between the ages of nine and 13, using Tanner staging. Attention New Moms! Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Overeat While Breastfeeding.
The researchers found that the girls’ breasts and pubic hair developed early and also had their menses at a younger age. Dr Kim Harley, associate professor in public health at the University of California, who led the study said: “We found evidence that some chemicals widely used in personal care products are associated with earlier puberty in girls.” Is BPA-Free Plastic Really Safe? No, Says Study; It Is Just As Bad For Your Health.
With every doubling of the concentration of the chemical in the urine of the pregnant women, their daughters underwent puberty 1.3 months earlier on an average. Boys were seemingly unaffected by prenatal exposure to the chemicals, according to the study.
Chemicals like parabens, phthalates and phenols have come under the scanner in recent years for their role in endocrine disruption. Researchers also find a link between these chemicals and the increased incidence of diseases such as cancer and autoimmune diseases.
Parabens and phenols are preservatives added to cosmetic products and medicines to increase their shelf life. And phthalates are chemical additives used to make plastics stronger and harder. These days, many consumers ask for paraben-free and phthalates-free products, knowing the health risks associated with them.