Many mothers who give birth to babies with congenital anomalies often wonder what could have caused it. A new study has raised fears that even chemicals we use every day may be toxic to the unborn child. Although, we know that certain medications and exposure to radiation may cause birth defects, little is known about common household chemicals.
The study was published in June, 2017 Births defect research journal and lead by Dr Terry Hrubec of Virginia Tech University.
According to Sciencedaily, the research demonstrated a link between quats and neural tube birth defects in both mice and rats.
These chemicals are known as quaternary ammonium compounds or “quats,” the chemicals are often used as
Disinfectants and preservatives in household and personal products such as
- Laundry detergent
- Fabric softener
- Eye drops
“These chemicals are regularly used in the home, hospital, public spaces, and swimming pools and most people are exposed on a regular basis’’ said Dr Terry.
What You should Know about Birth defects
The type of birth abnormalities described in this study are called Neural tube defects. These are abnormalities affecting the brain or spinal cord. Generally, it occurs within the first few weeks of pregnancy. Unfortunately, it may not be detected till the unborn child is 4 to 5 months old when an ultrasound scan can easily pick it up.
What Causes Neural tube defects?
No one knows the exact causes, however, it may be inherited or be due to exposure to things in the environment. According to the National Institute of Health, the birth anomalies seem to be commoner in women that:
- Have obesity
- Have poorly controlled diabetes
- Take anticonvulsants such as Carbamazepine, Valproate
- Have fever in the first month of pregnancy
The most important preventive measure is taking folic acid before and during pregnancy.
Although, this study was done in rats; it raises the possibility that household chemicals may be responsible for some birth defects.
Can the Use of These items explain some pregnancy related complications such as birth defects? That has not been determined. Nevertheless, there may be a need to begin to look closely at the use of household chemicals. Apart from birth defects implicated in rats, several studies have suggested that such chemicals are linked to cancer. Recently, the court ordered Johnson and Johnson, makers of the popular Johnson baby powder to pay 110millon dollars based on studies suggesting it may be linked to ovarian cancer.
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