Is Antibacterial Soap Safe for You And Baby?

ByKylie McConville
Updated
Mar 2017
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Photo: Thinkstock / The Bump

There are probably no good two things that go together like motherhood and antibacterial soap. Seriously! Moms (and dads and grandparents and babysitters) use the germ-killer to take care of just about everything in the home and in the kitchen.  In the past, we never had to think twice about using it on our hands after holding on to a staircase in a public place, or giving our kids’ hands a quick rinse after an afternoon at the park. Until now, that is…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has raised concerns about the functioning of tricolsan, which is the germ-killing ingredient that’s found in more than 70 percent of antibacterial body washes and liquid soaps used for bathing and cleaning kitchenware. Federal health regulators are trying to find out if the ingredients that make up the soap are actually doing more harm than good.

Back in the 70s, Congress passed a law that required the FDA to set guidelines on a number of antibacterial chemicals that are used to make up our most beloved soaps and scrubs. Though the FDA has published various guidelines, agencies have never approved the results. As a result, companies continued to use triclosan. It wasn’t until recently, after studies were performed of triclosan that raised concerns over the chemical’s negative effects. The research said, quite simply, that triclosan is not safe for use. From the research, they found that tricolsan can cause infertility and early puberty. The only catch? The FDA has said that their animal studies “don’t always predict effects in humans.”

Later this year, the FDA will come forward with a decision on whether or not the chemical germ-killer is safe for household use.

Do you use antibacterial soaps and scrubs at home? If not, what alternatives do you use?

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