Study Links Antibacterial Soap With Health Issues

Antibacterial soap is everywhere, but is it safe? Maybe not. A recent study says that it may not be the best thing for pregnant women to use.

Pregnancy washing hands

Photo credit: sot/Photodisc/Getty Images

Another day, another thing pregnant women should avoid, right? This time, triclosan and triclocarban are the culprits. They are compounds that are found in antibacterial soaps and many other products, and a recent study found the presence of one or both in urine samples of pregnant women and umbilical cord blood samples of newborns.

Just more hype?

I could almost hear the collective groan from the masses when this news hit the wire. We're tired of being told that something is safe for pregnant women, then oh wait! It's no longer safe, avoid it at all costs. You hear people say that their mother smoked and drank whisky while they were pregnant and they turned out just fine. So really, what's the big deal about antibacterial soap?

While antibacterial soaps are the most easily identified source of these compounds, they are actually found in 2,000 everyday products marketed as antimicrobial — including toothpastes, detergents, carpets, paints, school supplies and toys.

I remember going to the pediatrician when my first was an infant in 1995 and how it was a big deal that all the toys they provided were coated in triclosan — don't want to spread those germs, now do we? Over the last 18 years, I noticed they gradually disappeared and toys are no longer provided in pediatric waiting rooms around here.

What's the risk?

The risk of compound exposure is not clear, but researchers say there is a growing body of evidence that these chemicals have a negative effect on the human body and developing fetuses. This is unsurprising, as other chemical compounds such BPA and BPS have been implicated as hormone disruptors that can cause a multitude of health issues.

I think that avoiding chemicals, where possible, is a fine idea. I think that relegating this bit of info to simple hype and nonsense is silly, as we really don't know what the effects all of these chemicals have on ourselves and our unborn children. Just because your mom drank and smoke and you turned out fine, is it really a good idea to apply that bit of anecdotal evidence to your own life and that of your child?

Just buy regular soap and scrub well. You don't need the antibacterial stuff anyway.

More on prenatal health

CDC releases 2014 breastfeeding stats
Simple blood test may predict neural tube defects
Study finds nicotine use during pregnancy may increase ADHD risk

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