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Chemicals Used During Pregnancy Linked To Early Puberty In Girls

A new report suggests that girls exposed to chemicals in make-up and other products hit puberty much earlier than their peers. As a matter of fact, girls who use often use toiletries might be putting hormone-manipulating chemicals in their bodies, much to the concern of many parents and health professionals.

According to a new study from the University of California, researchers found how chemicals widely used in household products can impact hormone signals which might kickstart growth and development in young girls. These products include makeup, shampoo, facial wash, and every kind of toiletry imaginable. Puberty is a process that usually happens between ages 10 and 14 for girls and ages 12 and 16 for boys, but unfortunately, many children are experiencing it at much earlier ages.

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The research was published in the journal Human Reproduction and examined chemical groups including phthalates, parabens, and phenols using urine tests. In the study, public health researchers tracked a group of pregnant women and their children for 13 years, periodically measuring the concentrations of three groups of chemicals in the participants' urine.

The researchers also found a twofold increase in mothers' urine biomarker concentrations for certain chemicals during pregnancy, which was associated with a significantly earlier average onset of puberty for girls. In other words, the more a pregnant woman used toiletries with hormone-manipulating chemicals, the more likely their daughter would experience early puberty in her life. With females, the first sign of puberty is usually breast development.

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“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. "This is important because we know that the age at which puberty starts in girls has been getting earlier in the last few decades -- one hypothesis is that chemicals in the environment might be playing a role, and our findings support this idea.”

For health professionals and researchers, the results of this study are quite troubling. Dr. Hartley also said that earlier puberty in girls increases their risk of mental health problems and risk-taking behaviors as teenagers. If that weren’t enough, it also increases their risk of breast and ovarian cancer later on in their lives, too.

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The team of researchers added that this is still an active area of research and that more studies are needed. However, there is more and more evidence that chemicals in products that children use every day and put in their bodies have an impact on hormonal and reproductive development.

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