Cosmetic and makeup safety of phthalates in children is once again highlighted as a human toxin, an endocrine disruptor. This particular study focuses on the exposure of pregnant women to phthalates and the results of this exposure on their children in their preschool years.
Endocrine disrupter’s are substances that affect hormone systems in the body. Evidence suggests that they impact the function of the thyroid gland and also lower production of testosterone, which plays a critical role in the developing brain.
The results of this study are very important because we are exposed to phthalates on a daily basis, and, often without our knowledge.
Only with crucial evidence from studies, like this one, will Governments take the matter more seriously and consider the wide ranging effects of this toxin to humans and our environment.
Phthalates is a plasticiser. It is a commonly used chemical in many consumer products such as plastic toys, household building materials and cosmetics such as moisturisers, nail polishes, soaps, hair sprays and perfumes.
Before this study, there has never been any research into the prenatal phthalate exposure and the widespread cases of mental, motor and behavioural problems in children who are in the preschool years.
More and more expecting mothers are concerned of the risks associated with exposures to phthalates and this study of school-age children provides preliminary links to developmental problems.
The study, published online in Environmental Health Perspectives, followed the children of 319 non-smoking inner-city women who gave birth between 1999 and 2006 and measured metabolites of four phthalates in maternal urine as markers of prenatal exposure.
The phthalates were: di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate, di-isobutyl phthalate, di-n-butyl phthalate and butylbenzyl phthalate. The study evaluated associations between prenatal exposures to these phthalates and child mental, motor and behavioural development at age 3 years.
The scientists used the Bayley Scales of Infant Development II, a well validated developmental test, to assess the mental and motor development of the children.
Behavioural problems were measured by asking mothers to complete the widely used 99-item Child Behaviour Check-list (for ages 1-5 years).
Overall, researchers found that higher prenatal exposures to two of the phthalates significantly increased the odds of motor delay, an indication of potential future problems with fine and gross motor coordination.
Among girls, one of the phthalates was associated with significant decreases in mental development.
Prenatal exposures to three of the phthalates were also significantly associated with behaviour problems including emotionally reactive behaviour, anxiety/depression, somatic complaints and withdrawn behaviour.
These effects differed somewhat by child sex but were statistically significant among both boys and girls.
Dr. Whyatt, professor of clinical Environmental Health Sciences says that "Our results suggest that prenatal exposure to these phthalates adversely affects child mental, motor and behavioural development during the preschool years."
"The results add to a growing public health concern about the widespread use of phthalates in consumer products".
While the actual mechanisms by which phthalates may affect the developing brain are still being explored, this study clearly highlights the fact that more work is needed to understand the biological effects of this commonly used chemical.
The group of researchers were from Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and Columbia Centre for Children's Environmental Health
As an expectant and toxin conscious mother :
Don't pay too much attention to this table.
It is only for reference and illustrates the many various chemical phthalate types available.
When checking the label on your cosmetic ingredient, simply look out for the word "phthalates".