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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

SUNY Downstate: Is Maternal Use of Cosmetics Linked to Newborn Outcomes?

Maternal levels of preservatives commonly used in cosmetics and other personal care products were found to be linked to certain newborn outcomes, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials.


[Photo: Dr. Laura Geer]

Parabens are preservatives commonly found in cosmetics, lotions and other personal care products. Triclosan and triclocarban are antibacterials added to many soaps and personal care products. They can all be absorbed through the skin in minute quantities, and in animal studies, they acted as endocrine disruptors, leading to obesity, decreased sperm production and developmental problems.

This recent study led by Dr. Laura Geer, associate professor of environmental and occupational health sciences, is one of the first linking parabens and triclocarban to effects in humans. According to Dr. Geer, “Our latest study adds to the growing body of evidence showing that endocrine-disrupting compounds can lead to developmental and reproductive problems in animals and in humans.”

Dr. Geer and her colleagues measured third trimester levels of triclosan, triclocarban and several parabens in 184 pregnant women in Brooklyn as well as 34 of their newborns. There were links between butylparaben levels in pregnant women and lower birth weights as well as higher odds of prematurity in their babies.

Though implications of these findings require further study, Dr. Geer suggests, “based on this new evidence, the safety of use of these chemicals in our consumer products should be reassessed.”