Chemicals Used in Cosmetics May Be Tied to Increased Risk of Autism

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  • The exposure to phthalates has been related to autism for the boys (but but not in girls) between the ages of 3 and 4 according to a recent study.
  • However the risk was lower for women who consumed Folic acid during their pregnancy.
  • This research is the first study to demonstrate that supplements containing folic acid provide an anti-phthalate effect.

The exposure of the womb to a class of endocrine disrupting chemicals known as phthalates was linked with autism for the boys (but the opposite was not true for girls) between the ages of 3 and 4, according to the findings of a new study by Trusted Source.

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However, less of these characteristics were found among boys whose mothers consumed the recommended dose of folic acid within the first trimester, as the results suggest.

“Very very few studies examined autism and the associated characteristics and the associated traits, but with mixed results. 

We attempted to address this question using a large sample of an Canadian study that was developed specifically to examine the possible adverse effects on development of exposure to chemicals in the environment,” lead author Youssef Oulhote who is an assistant professor of biostatistics and sociology at the UMass Amherst School of Public Health & Health Sciences said to Healthline.

Phthalates are often employed in a wide range of products, such as soap and cosmetics.

Mothers were recruited in MIREC study MIREC study

Oulhote and her team Oulhote and team enrolled in the study 2,001 Canadian women, with the average of age 33 in the first trimester of pregnancies between the years 2008 to. 

The study found that less than 10 percent of women reported regularly drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes during pregnancy.

The participants were all taken through MIREC, the Maternal and Infant Research in Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) which was which is a longitudinal study of pregnancy cohorts carried out in Canada.

Researchers gathered information through questionnaires, medical charts and the urine and blood samples of mothers during pregnancy as well as at the time of delivery.

The concentrations of 11 monoester phthalate Trusted Source Metabolites were measured in the urine samples of the first trimester from the Toxicology Centre of the Quebec Institute of Public Health.

“We had several limitations, the most important one being that these phthalates exposures may vary in time, and therefore future studies should consider this and try to measure these phthalates at multiple time points in pregnancy,” Oulhote stated.

A higher phthalate intake is linked to autism symptoms

Researchers conducted neuropsychological tests on 610 babies born aged between three and four years old. age.

It also included it being the SRS-2, also known as the Social Responsiveness Scale 2 (SRS-2), a test for autism along with social impairment. A higher score indicates that more autism symptoms are present.

“We examined autistic characteristics and not a diagnosis of autism and would have required the use of a large sample or an entirely different plan because of the rarity of ASD. 

But, studying the characteristics of autistic people gives us a useful insight into the way these traits manifest on an population scale,” Oulhote explained.

Researchers have found that higher concentrations of phthalate chemicals found in mother’s urine samples were linked with an increase in SRS scores, however only for children whose parents didn’t consume the daily dose of folic acids (400 micrograms) in the first trimester.

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Folic acid plays a the key

This is the first study to demonstrate that folic acids supplements can provide protection against phthalates. 

Oulhote is also of the opinion that folic acids supplements could prevent the effects of other harmful chemicals.

“The most surprising and important finding was how adequate important folic acid supplementation was in offsetting the potential effects of phthalates on autistic traits,” Oulhote declared.

Studies conducted by Trusted Source have proven that folic acids is linked to a lower risk of developing autism spectrum disorder due to early exposure to pesticides and air pollution.

Phthalates can affect the health of many people in a variety of ways

Phthalates are a class of chemicals that create plastics that are more flexible, and more difficult to break. They are also known as plasticizers.

They also serve as dissolving agents in other substances, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source.

Phthalates are also able to act as hormonesTrusted Source and may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The research has found that children of mothers who were exposed to phthalates in pregnancy were more likely suffer from motor skill problems as well as another study study found that the pregnant children were more likely to have issues with the development of their language.

Phthalates are everywhere

These chemicals can be found in hundreds of trusted sources of items, including vinyl flooring and adhesives, detergents and adhesives. oil-lubricating, automotive plastics raincoats, personal care items, such as:

  • soaps
  • Shampoos
  • hairs prays
  • nail polish

Phthalates can also be found of the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics. They can be used to make sheets and packaging film made from plastic as well as garden hoses, containers for storage of blood medical tubing, some toys for children.

Beware of exposure

Phthalates are virtually unavoidable in the contemporary world, however it is possible to reduce the exposure.

Although there is a requirement that Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Trusted Source stipulates that phthalates must be included in the ingredients of products for personal care but they do not need to be listed if they’re included as part of the scent.

While some companies may declare their products “phthalate free,” it might be better to contact them and ensure.

New mothers should take simple steps to ensure baby’s safety.

“Once you have your baby, you need to be vigilant about chemicals that could cause harm. Find products that are fragrance-free and are as natural as they can be. 

Be sure to keep up with DIY, which includes cleaning products and limit the use of plastics in your home including infant bottles, toys and even baby food.” written Claire McCarthy, MD who is a faculty editor at Harvard Health Publishing, in the Harvard Health Blog.

Bottom line

A new study has found that women who are exposed to chemicals containing phthalate during pregnancy could give birth to boys that have traits that are indicative of autism.

However children of mothers who consumed the recommended dosage of folic acid had lesser characteristics.

It is the very first research to show that supplements containing folic acid could safeguard unborn babies from the harmful adverse effects of phthalates.

Phthalates are all over our surroundings, however it is possible to minimize the amount you are exposed to, such as the avoidance of canned foods or certain plastics as well as personal items that are a part of this type of chemical.

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