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Could Common Antibacterials Be Harmful to Pregnant Women and Their Babies?

pregnant woman's bump
Pregnant women and their babies-to-be are being frequently exposed to antibacterial compounds that could be harmful, according to a new study from Arizona State University being presented at the 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). The compounds—triclosan and triclocarban—are found in more than 2,000 household cleaning and personal care products, as well as school supplies and toys. There's growing evidence that exposure to triclosan and triclocarban could lead to developmental and reproductive problems in animals, and that the danger could extend to humans, too. While we have the ability to dilute these antibacterial compounds, the fact is, they're so prevalent that we're at risk of universal exposure, according to ASU's Rolf Halden, Ph. D., the lead investigator of the study. More from Science Daily:

Laura Geer, [Ph.D., of the State University of New York], says the study yielded a link between women with higher levels of another ubiquitous antimicrobial, butyl paraben, which is commonly used in cosmetics, and shorter newborn lengths. The long-term consequences of this are not clear, but Geer adds that, if this finding is confirmed in larger studies, it could mean that widespread exposure to these compounds could cause a subtle but large-scale shift in birth sizes.

Luckily, some state policymakers and companies have already taken steps to remove triclosan from products. Minnesota will prohibit its use in certain products starting in January 2016. And companies like Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble are taking out the antimicrobial in some of their products. At the federal level, the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency are conducting additional research on these compounds, too.

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