14 Dec 2010

Toothpaste chemical 'that can leave unborn babies brain damaged'

Toothpaste chemical 'that can leave unborn babies brain damaged'
By Pat Hagan
A chemical in toothpastes and soaps has been linked with brain damage to babies in the womb.
Scientists fear pregnant women who are exposed to high levels of the chemical, called triclosan, may be putting their babies at risk.
Alarming new findings suggest triclosan may disrupt the flow of blood to the uterus, starving a baby’s brain of the oxygen it needs to develop properly.
Last night researchers involved in the study called for urgent investigations into the dangers to unborn babies.
Professor Margaret James of the University of Florida said: ‘We know it’s a problem. But we just don’t know how much of a problem.’
Triclosan is a powerful anti-bacterial that was developed nearly 50 years ago.
It is now commonly used in everything from toothpastes, deodorants and handwashes to washing-up liquid, anti-bacterial chopping boards and even some toys.
However, it has been dogged by concerns over its safety and earlier this year the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. announced it was carrying out a major review on its safety.
In the latest study, tests on sheep showed it interferes with an enzyme that allows the hormone oestrogen to circulate in the womb.
Oestrogen helps to keep open the main artery carrying oxygen-rich blood to the foetus....

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