Household chemicals linked to early puberty in girls
06 Décembre, 2018, 16:18 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
Chemicals found in perfume and body lotion may make girls go through puberty early.
The CHAMACOS study recruited pregnant women living in the farm-working, primarily Latino communities of Central California's Salinas Valley between 1999 and 2000.
The association was found by looking at levels of the chemicals in girls aged 9 to 13, and by looking at the levels found in their mothers during pregnancy. However it was only girls, and not boys, who entered puberty earlier when exposed to certain chemicals.
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".
A chemical called diethyl phthalate, used in perfumes and cosmetics and only banned by the European Union in significant concentrations this year, could lead girls to start puberty months earlier than the average, research found.
"Mothers who had higher levels of two chemicals in their bodies during pregnancy - diethyl phthalate, which is used in fragrance, and triclosan, which is an antibacterial agent in certain soaps and toothpaste - had daughters who entered puberty earlier", she said.
Although Doctor Harley has acknowledged other elements can play its part on early puberty, she fears the impact this will have on children's mental health.
The research, published in the journal Human Reproduction, also found links with propyl paraben - which is used in perfumes - and chlorine-containing chemicals, which appear in cosmetics in the U.S. but are only for industrial use in Britain.
Phthalates, parabens and triclosan are not banned for use in personal care products, and there isn't solid evidence yet that they cause health effects in humans, Harley said by email.
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He continued: "I am leading this debate today because we are in many ways at a juncture in the fight against HIV and Aids". Young girls are often particularly at risk - 75% of new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa are among girls aged 15-19.
The vast majority - more than 90 percent - of urine samples of both mothers and children showed detectable concentrations of all three classes of chemicals, with the exception of triclosan which was present in approximately 70 percent of samples.
The effects of the chemicals on oestrogen may be why girls are more affected. And with every doubling of mothers' urine concentrations of triclosan, girls started menstruating one month earlier.
Most had no high school diploma and lived below the USA federal poverty threshold.
There is growing concern among some researchers about the effects...
Prof Harley said: "But we always knew we would have the opportunity to examine other chemical exposures". And one limitation of the study is that researchers lacked data to know if girls going through puberty might be more likely to use these personal care products, and be directly exposed that way, the study authors note.
The study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, examined chemical levels including phthalates, parabens and phenols.
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