Chemicals from cosmetics, perfumes, and other fragrances were detected along with dozens of other industrial compounds in the umbilical cords of African American, Asian, and Latino infants in the United States, according to a national study released Wednesday.
While not too unexpected, another small study fond a wide range of chemicals that infants have been exposed to. Bisphenol A (BPA) is one of them. Just because some was detected does not mean it was necessarily at biologically relevant levels. And it was a very small study – only 10 babies.
But, finding it is worrisome. BPA was found in 9 out of 10 of the newborns. Lead was found in all the babies. Same with mercury and methyl-mercury. It is almost impossible to know what the effects would be at these low levels on a developing fetus. But even trace amounts of some chemicals can have huge effects at certain stages of development.
One often ignored aspect that this report addresses are epigenetic effects. well, at least it recognizes that these are important as exposure at an early age can not only result in lifetime alteration in gene expression but also that these changes can be passed on the subsequent generations.
So, even if you have never been exposed to something, you might have a certain set of proteins produced at a certain level because your parents were exposed. This is something that the NIH is really beginning to look at. The authors of this report hope to share their insights.
While we may not know all the biological ramifications of exposures at such early ages (and one would hope the placenta filter out some of them), it does seem worthwhile to focus on reducing exposure to many of these chemicals.