One More Thing to Avoid While Pregnant: Is This in Your Bathroom?

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ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Updated
Mar 2017
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Photo: Thinkstock

Environmental health concerns have the FDA trying to decide what to do about the use of common antibacterial compounds, found in things like soaps, detergents and toothpastes. But while they deliberate, scientists are calling attention to the potential risks the compounds have on pregnant women and their fetuses.

What? Isn’t practically every hand soap antibacterial or antimicrobial? Seems like it. While our bodies are able to flush out the two germ-killers in question —  triclosan and triclocarban — constant exposure is making it hard for us to keep up. Case in point: traces of both have been found the urine of all pregnant women tested, and the cord blood of half of their babies.

The concern over exposure to antibacterial compounds has to do with their link to reproductive and developmental problems. But don’t panic just yet; research shows these problems can occur in animals, and only potentially in humans.

Women with higher levels of butyl paraben, a different antimicrobial found in cosmetics, are associated with having shorter newborns. But whether or not this has any long-term consequences is unclear.

Companies like Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble are phasing out triclosan from some products. Minnesota is even banning the use of antimicrobials in some products starting in 2017. In the meantime, steer clear of antibacterial and antimicrobial soaps when you can.

Are you using special soap or cleaning products now that you’re pregnant? 

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