Hair Spray May Be Tied To Birth Defects. New research reveals that chemicals in hairspray may be tied to hypospadias, a serious genital birth defect that is seen in boys. Prior research has also come to similar conclusions.
Parker Waichman LLP is investigating potential lawsuits on behalf of individuals, or their male children, who have suffered genital injury due to hairspray exposure when in utero.
French Study Warns Pregnant Women Against Using Hair Spray
Pediatricians have suggested that the use of hair sprays and some coloring shampoos may raise risks for a genital condition known as hypospadias. Pregnant women have been warned against the use of these products following emerging evidence suggests that chemicals these products contain may be associated with hypospadias, according to a March 2017 The Daily Mail report.
The alert followed release of research findings that revealed that women who had used specific hair cosmetics during pregnancy had a nearly two-fold risk of giving birth to a boy diagnosed with hypospadias. “This is the first study to demonstrate a link between maternal household exposure to these two hair cosmetics during early pregnancy and the incidence of hypospadias,” according to the researchers, whose study is published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
One of the research theories is that chemicals in the hair cosmetics products disrupt male hormones and interfere with the development of the male genitalia during the critical first three months of the pregnancy. “The precautionary principle should apply to pregnant women and they should be advised to limit their use of hair cosmetic,” the researchers write.
Hypospadias is a condition that impacts approximately one in 250 men, often leading to life-long physical and emotional trauma. One of the main features of hypospadias involves the meatus (urine opening), which will emerge on the shaft or base of the penis and not the tip. Hypospadias is also associated with undescended testes, enlarged prostate, stone formation, and fertility problems, according to The Daily Mail. Surgery is required to address the issues associated with hypospadias. Some 1,500 operations are conducted annually to correct hypospadias and experts say the number is increasing, more than doubling in one generation.
The researchers indicated that a male baby’s exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the womb might adversely affect the development of the child’s genitalia during early pregnancy. The research, conducted at Amiens University Hospital in France involved comparison of the use of hair cosmetics, chemicals, and pesticides in 250 women who gave birth to boys who were diagnosed with and without hypospadias, noted The Daily Mail. A link was not discovered between hypospadias and the use of chemicals, including paint, solvents, gasoline, ink, glue, and household products; however, use of hair cosmetic was found to raise the risk by 80 percent. Support for the theory was derived from prior research.
The researchers concluded that, “Our findings provide evidence of an association between maternal exposure to EDCs during early pregnancy and an increased risk of hypospadias in the offspring. The effects of occupational exposure to EDCs remain controversial. For the first time, the use of hair cosmetics at home has been identified as a risk factor for hypospadias. A larger study is needed to more clearly determine the risks associated with the use of cosmetics. Considerable efforts have been made over recent years to test and identify the effects of EDCs, but their effects on the offspring remain difficult to determine. EDCs including phthalates are strongly suspected to participate in the pathophysiology of hypospadias and TDS; our results support this hypothesis. Until the effects of EDCs have been more clearly determined, the precautionary principle should apply to pregnant women; in particular, they should be advised to limit their use of hair cosmetics.” EDCs are endocrine-disrupting chemicals and TDS is testicular dysgenesis syndrome, which is a male reproduction-related condition characterized by symptoms and disorders, including hypospadias, cryptorchidism (undescended testes), poor semen quality, and testicular cancer.
Prior Research Ties Hair Spray to Hypospadias
According to The Daily Mail, prior research revealed a significant association between maternal occupational exposure to hairsprays in manufacturing plants and the risk of hypospadias. Another study found an increased risk of newborns with hypospadias in women hairdressers. Paul Anderson, consultant urologist at the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust who specializes in genito-urethral reconstructive surgery-including male adults diagnosed with hypospadias-, said that, “The causes of the condition are not known, but hormones are very obviously involved, and the theory suggested in this new research is very plausible. At a very early stage in the pregnancy, the urethra is flat but at a critical point in development, it becomes a tube. If the hormonal mix in the womb is not right, that development may not happen or may be abnormal.”
According to research entitled “Endocrine Disrupters in the Workplace, Hair Spray, Folate Supplementation, and Risk of Hypospadias: Case Control Study” published in 2009 in Environmental Health Perspectives, pregnant women who are exposed to phthalates in hairspray and other sources in the workplace are associated with a significantly increased risk of giving birth to a son diagnosed with hypospadias. The researchers noted that folate supplements might minimize the risk, according to Environmental Health News.
The findings from the British research involved nearly 1,000 baby boys and notes that increased caution in the workplace is warranted for pregnant women exposed to phthalates, which are chemicals used in a variety of products, including hair spray, that affect hormones. Animal research found that pre-birth exposure to the chemical changes cells in the testes and lowers testosterone levels, noted Environmental Health News. Given the health concerns, various governments-Mexico, European Union, Canada, and the state of California-banned the use of some phthalates and another law partially bans phthalates in products meant for children.
Professor Paul Elliott, the corresponding author of the research from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Imperial College London, said that, “Hypospadias is a condition that, if left untreated, can cause problems in later life. Although surgery to correct it is usually successful, any surgery will be traumatic for the child and his parents…. Further research is needed to understand better why women exposed to hairspray at work in the first three months of pregnancy may have increased risk of giving birth to a boy with hypospadias.”
The researchers reached their conclusions following detailed telephone interviews with 471 mothers who gave birth to sons who had been referred to surgeons for the treatment of hypospadias. Another 490 participants were controls. All participants resided across 120 London Boroughs and Local Authority Districts. The questionnaires explored a variety of elements involving the women’s health and lifestyle, including the then-expectant mother’s occupation and possible exposure to different chemical substances, family history of disease, maternal occupation, vegetarianism, smoking, and the use of folate supplements. Using the so-called “job exposure matrix” the mothers were questioned about their jobs and an industrial hygienist classified them by chemical exposure. Chemicals included hair spray. Taking personal information, health history, and diet into account, the study found an increased risk of hypospadias that was two-to-three times greater in boys born to mothers exposed at work during their pregnancies to hairspray and phthalates. Environmental Health News pointed out that this is the first research to strongly associate exposure to hairspray, some of which contain phthalates, with this risk.