A novel research initiated by a team of researchers from the University of Florida has revealed that a chemical called triclosan can damage the brain of developing fetus.

According to the researchers, pregnant women getting maximum exposure to the chemical may be compromising with the health of their unborn babies.

Triclosan is commonly found in the household toiletries like toothpastes, deodorants, and soaps. It is also found in chopping boards, toys and other day-to-day use items.

The medical fraternity is worried about its hazardous effects on the unborn babies.

"We know it's a problem. But we just don't know how much of a problem. Triclosan can affect blood flow to the uterus [Also called the womb, the uterus is a hollow, pear-shaped organ located in a woman's lower abdomen, between the bladder and the rectum, that sheds its lining each month during menstruation and in which a fertilized egg implants and grows into a fetus. ], meaning the baby's brain does not get the oxygen it needs," said Professor Margaret James, who is the lead-author of the present study.

Impact on fetus

It may be noted that scientists have been raising concerns on the use of chemical and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had recently announced to carry out a review of triclosan.

Investigators conducted tests of the chemical on sheep recently and found that when the chemical reached the womb, it interfered with the action of the enzyme that facilitates circulation of estrogen.

If the levels of estrogen present in the womb drops considerably, then the artery [a blood vessel that carries oxygenated blood away from the heart to the body.] will become narrow and sufficient oxygen will not reach the fetus and this could hamper its growth and brain development. Estrogen facilitates oxygen-rich blood to reach the womb efficiently.

Small dose safe?

Officials of EU Cosmetics Derivative, a company that deals with the chemical in the UK said, "The chemical is safe in small doses."

Meanwhile, GlaxoSmithKline has stopped using the chemical and some of its products, namely Aquafresh toothpaste, Sensodyne toothpaste, and Corsodyl mouthwash are triclosan-free.

But, Elizabeth Salter-Green, Director of ChemTrust cautions the pregnant women to avoid using products that contain the chemical.

More research needed

Though the researchers are sure about the problem caused by the chemical, the extent of the problem is not known to them and so to validate their findings the study authors have called for more research on triclosan.

Since not many trials about how harmful the chemical is have been conducted, it becomes important that studies targeted at finding the extent of the problem are initiated soon for better suggestions on preventing damage to the unborn babies.

Comment: To learn more about The Dangers of Triclosan: A Common Anti-Bacterial Ingredient read the following articles:

FDA Will Review Safety of Common Antibacterial in Soap, Toothpaste

How Your Toothpaste, Soap and Make-Up Can Harm Your Health

Two Dangerous Ingredients in Everyday Products That Are Threatening Our Health

From the article:
Numerous chemicals that are legally used in personal care products are untested, inadequately tested, or even proven harmful, but few are as widely used and as unnecessary as the endocrine disrupting chemicals triclosan (an ingredient in 75 percent of liquid hand soaps) and triclocarban (most commonly found in deodorant bar soaps). Scientists have recently found a number of new reasons why these chemicals should not be used in consumer products. In late July, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) brought a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), calling on the FDA to ban triclosan and triclocarban from soaps and body washes.

Together, triclosan and triclocarban are widely used in antibacterial soaps, body washes, deodorants, lip glosses, dog shampoos, shave gels, and even toothpastes. They are found in brands as familiar as Colgate, Dial, Lever 2000, and Vaseline. Although they have been used for several decades for their antibacterial and antifungal properties, studies and even the FDA recognize that they are no more effective at preventing disease than regular soap and water. In other words, they serve two real purposes: allowing companies to market personal care products as "antibacterial," and contaminating the waste stream (and, ultimately, the environment).