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Hairspray Exposure Ups Risk for Birth Defect in Sons

Stylists, beauticians may be affected by phthalates in these products, experts say

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 26, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- Mothers exposed to a common hairspray chemical while at work may be more likely to have sons born with an abnormally placed urinary opening, a new report says.

Many cosmetics such as deodorants, fragrances, and nail and hair products contain chemicals called phthalates, such as diethyl phthalate (DEP) and dibutyl phthalate (DBP). Sons born to hairdressers, beauty therapists, research chemists, line operators, pharmaceutical operators or other jobs where the mother was likely to come in contact with phthalates had a two to three times greater risk for the birth defect known as hypospadias.

Phthalates or their metabolites, including monoethyl phthalate (MEP) and mono-n-butyl phthalate (MBP), have been previously linked to other abnormalities in male infants including hypospadias.

The study, by researchers with Imperial College in London, also found that mothers who took folate supplements in the first trimester of pregnancy cut their risk of a having a boy with hypospadias by 36 percent. The study also contradicted previous studies by finding no link between a vegetarian or vegan diet and offspring with hypospadias.

The study recently was accepted for publication in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about birth defects.

SOURCE: Environmental Health Perspectives, news release, Nov. 21, 2008
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