Saturday, June 11, 2005

As If Things Weren't Bad Enough . . .

A recent study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives finds that pregnant women who are exposed to a very common class of household chemicals known as phthalates may give birth to boys with suppressed levels of hormones involved in male sexual development.

Phthalates are commonly found in cosmetics, perfumes, soaps, shampoos, hair sprays, nail polish, detergents, medicine coatings and plastic food packaging. Phthalates are not commonly noted on labels.

The study found a higher-than-average correlation between levels of phthalates in birth mothers and abnormal genital development in their babies. Baby boys were more likely to have smaller penises, smaller scrotums and a higher incidence of undescended testicles. The findings were consistent with studies done with lab rats.

"These changes in humans associated with prenatal exposure to some of the same phthalate metabolites that cause such alterations in male rodents suggest that these widely used phthalates may undervirilize humans as well as rodents," the authors write.

(After all these years, I've finally found a reason to be glad that Mom was a good old fashioned Pentecostal girl. No makeup, no hair spray. Praise the Lord!)

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