Chemicals in soaps and cosmetics may be causing early puberty in children
Young people are hitting puberty at a younger age.
Researchers from the University of California (UC) Berkeley in the US have found that the daughters of mothers who had higher levels of diethyl phthalate and triclosan in their bodies during pregnancy experienced puberty at younger ages.
The research suggests exposure to a plastic called diethyl phthalate or a chemical called methyl paraben as a child or in the womb could trigger an early adolescence.
Certain phthalates are used in scented products such as perfumes, deodorants, soaps, shampoo, toothpaste and cosmetics while parabens are often used as preservatives in cosmetics and other care products.
The results were published in the journal Human Reproduction and came from data collected as part of the US Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas study. The study followed 338 children from before birth to adolescence.
“We found evidence that some chemicals widely used in personal care products are associated with earlier puberty in girls,” said Dr Kim Harley, associate professor in public health at the University of California, who led the study.
“Specifically, we found that 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.
“We also found that girls with higher levels of parabens in their bodies at the age of nine entered puberty earlier.”