Endocrine disruptors and pregnancy

To understand how endocrine disruptors work and how they affect during pregnancy, we must first know how the endocrine system works. This, also called the hormonal system, regulates vital functions from embryonic development: it is a complex communication system that maintains the body’s stability.

What are endocrine disruptors?

Endocrine disruptors are chemical compounds that affect negatively the balance of the hormonal or endocrine system at very low concentrations. They are able to supplant our natural hormones and take their place or block their effect. At present we also know that some effects of endocrine disruptors are transmitted to the following generations, therefore, I think it is an issue important enough for us to take a few minutes to get informed.

How do they get to us?

We can acquire endocrine disruptors through inhalation of particles, ingestion of contaminated food and water, or through skin (use of cosmetics, sun creams, perfumes, deodorants, shampoos, toothpaste … etc.)

Some of the consequences in our body:

  • Abnormal blood hormone levels
  • Fertility reduction
  • Congenital deformities
  • Alteration of the immune system
  • Cancers in female and male reproductive organs
  • Deformities of fallopian tubes, uterus and cervix
  • Alterations in bone density and structure
  • Abnormal blood hormone levels
  • Fertility reduction
  • Congenital deformities
  • Alteration of the immune system
  • Cancers in female and male reproductive organs
  • Deformities of fallopian tubes, uterus and cervix
  • Alterations in bone density and structure

If for an adult these compounds are undesirable, imagine the negative influence they can have on a baby during the most vulnerable stage of its body. That is, during pregnancy, lactation and up to the first baby’s 1,000 days. Endocrine disruptors are substances with a great capacity to cause adverse effects on the health of a person and their offspring and WHO recognized in 2013 that they affect embryonic and fetal development. We have read studies that have found endocrine disruptors in the urine of a pregnant woman and in the milk that she gives to her baby even three months after being exposed to a cosmetic with parabens.

Image of sensitive periods in fetal development. WHO source

The first 1,000 days

The most sensitive moments of a human being’s life to receive the adverse effects of endocrine disruptors are from the conception to the first 1,000 days of the baby, since the brain of the new creature can activate and deactivate a thousand neuronal connections every second. Exposure of the uterus can already cause effects on birth, childhood, adolescence, adulthood or even old age.

Some endocrine disruptors that we can find in cosmetics:

  • Propylparaben
  • Butylparaben
  • Isobutylparaben
  • Octylmethoxycinnamate OMC
  • Bencilidenecanfor
  • Methylbenzyldenecanfor 4-MBC
  • Benzophenone 3, BC3
  • Triclosan
  • Resorcinol

And the million dollar question: why do we find them daily in regular products and are not prohibited?

From my modest point of  view and the one of much of the scientific community and endocrinology associations, this is because toxicity assessments are outdated. Therefore, it is urgent to implement new evaluation methods so that these substances do not reach the market. Many times drawing a straight line between a substance and the disease is not so easy. Therefore, it is urgent to apply at least the precautionary principle at this time. This has been one of the main axes to formulate each of Me and Me’s products: to create a cosmetic free of endocrine disruptors.

Bibliography

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