Mothers-to-be are contaminating their unborn babies in the womb with toxic chemicals found in their beauty products, a new study has revealed.
Many of the chemicals found in the study by scientists in Spain could disrupt hormones and trigger infertility and obesity, it emerged.
The study – by Barcelona’s Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA-CSIC) – found toxins in umbilical cord blood from 69 newborns.
Eleven chemical compounds from cosmetic products – including sun creams – that have been detected for the first time can pose a risk to human health, scientists warn.
The study shows that the chemicals can be transmitted from the mother to the foetus through the placental barrier.
The main author of the study, Dr Silvia Diaz-Cruz, said: “In 17 per cent of the umbilical cord samples that we analysed, we detected benzophenone-3 (oxybenzone), the most widely used UV filter in the world for sun protection, which is currently forbidden in some countries.”
According to scientists, the endocrine disruptor benzophenone-3, as a chemical interfering with the hormonal system, could affect reproduction and cause an increased risk of endometriosis, infertility and problems during pregnancy and birth.
Scientists have also found avobenzone in 15 per cent of umbilical cord samples for the first time.
Avobenzone is a UV filter and an ingredient in sun creams due to its ability to absorb ultraviolet light.
But, according to scientists, it can interfere with the natural action of oestrogens and increase the likelihood of childhood obesity.
During the study, the experts also found high concentrations of benzophenone-2 (53.3 ng/mL), a UV absorber in the formulation of skin care products.
Benzophenone-2 is a chemical that was found in previous studies in human placenta and breast milk.
These compounds can be transmitted through skin contact, contaminated food or water, or through air inhalation, according to scientists.
However, Dr Diaz-Cruz said that they need to monitor the effects of these chemicals long-term in order to determine what the appropriate regulations related to human health would need to be.
She stressed: “Considering the limited number of samples in our work, these results should be interpreted as a preliminary reference to study the transfer of chemical compounds through the umbilical cord in a larger population.”