Friday, June 04, 2010
If you're currently pregnant or have a male child that was born with a genital birth defect then the cause can most likely be linked to phthalates. What are phthalates exactly? They are chemicals found in common household products such as plastics, shower curtains, children's toys. Other sources and where they are found are:
DEP(diethyl phthalate): deodorant, fragrance, hair gel, hair mousse, hair spray, hand and body lotions
DBP(dibutyle phthalate) nail polish, deodorant, fragrances, hair spray and is considered the least harmful of all phthalates
DEHP(diethylhexyl phthalate) fragrance
*Note that they may simply be listed on the product label as 'fragrance'
Bisphenol A found in plastics can mimic female hormones
If you are pregnant, exposure to these chemicals between your 8th and 15th week where the hormone balance directs the sex organ development can put your fetus at great risk because it can disrupt hormones and formation of male genitals according to a University of Rochester study. Phthalates are endocrine disruptors which interfere with the synthesis of testosterone.
One genital defect may be hypospadias where the boy's urethra exits the underside of his penis as compared to the opening of the urethra migrating from near the testicles to end of the penis. This can only be corrected via several surgeries. Other effects may be a small penis size or a short anogenital distance which is a shortened distance between the anus and genitals.
You may be asking why doesn't these chemicals affect female genital development as well? This is thought to be attributed to the fact that up to 8 weeks of pregnancy there are no clear sex organ trait but after 8 weeks those with a Y chromosome (which determines male sex) start to develop gonads for the secretion of testosterone. Testosterone therefore turning the fetus into a male.
There is good news though. The human machine is wondrous and can clear out the phthalates in about 2-3 days. But keep in mind that constant exposure can make the clearing process next to impossible. The body stores toxins and therefore this can lead to high doses being transferred to the fetus.
What is the alternative to using such harmful products? Go green! Read your labels and recognize the chemicals that can be detrimental. Switch, at least temporarily, to natural products or products less than 2 fingers worth of listed chemicals on the label.
We live in an era where it is not difficult at all to pick up all natural products in our neighborhood stores. Although the cost may be significantly higher than those non-natural products, the overall costs to your baby will far outweigh those few extra dollars spent.