The use of certain personal care products during pregnancy may impact maternal hormone levels due to the presence of some harmful chemicals, says a new study by Rutgers University.
Published in the Environmental Research Journal, the study examined the association between personal care product use and the levels of sex steroid hormones, including estrogens and progesterone, and thyroid hormones among pregnant women. Further, it explored how demographic factors impacted the use of certain personal care products.
As per the study, personal care and beauty products contain several endocrine-disrupting chemicals like phthalates, parabens, phenols and toxic metals. Such chemicals interact with hormone systems, influencing synthesis, regulation, transport, metabolism and hormone reception, which are all quite vulnerable during the pregnancy period.
For the study, researchers collected blood samples from 1,070 pregnant women between the age of 18 and 40, enrolled in the Puerto Rico PROTECT Cohort. For the study, participants underwent physical tests and provided details regarding their demographics, occupation, lifestyle and use of personal care products like fragrances, lotions, cosmetics, nail polish, shaving cream, mouthwash, shampoo and other hair care products like bleach, relaxers and mousse.
According to Dr Poonam Aggarwal, senior consultant, obstetrics and gynaecology, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, there is no direct association between hormonal changes and personal care products. However, “there are some chemicals found in some products which can affect hormones during pregnancy. Estrogen creams, fluorides (found in some skin whitening creams), heavy metals (found in some beauty products) are some of them,” she said.
Excessive use of such chemicals and their chronic effect during pregnancy can be harmful, the expert warned. “It can potentially result in pre-term labour, abortion and abnormal growth of unborn baby,” she explained.
Dr Aggarwal suggested to be selective and recommended a “wise use of products as per concerned doctor’s consultation”.