Chemicals in Hairspray May Increase Risk of Hypospadias. A new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health suggests that using hairspray during pregnancy may increase the risk of a birth defect in boys. The chemicals in hairspray may be associated with a defect in the male genitalia known as hypospadias. Based on the findings, the authors said, pregnant women should be advised against using hairspray.
The personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP have decades of experience representing clients in product liability lawsuits. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a birth defects lawsuit.
In males with hypospadias, the opening of the urethra is located on the underside of the penis instead of at the tip. This condition affects roughly one in 250 men. Men with hypospadias are more likely to experience fertility issues, and have undescended testes. The birth abnormality is corrected through surgery.
According to UK news outlet Daily Mail, pediatricians are worried about whether chemicals in hairspray increase the risk of hypospadias. Researchers suspect that hairspray contains substances that interfere with male hormone and genitalia development during the first trimester. “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,” the researchers state.
The study was conducted by researchers at Amiens University Hospital in France, who analyzed 250 women who gave birth to boys. The cohort consisted of women who delivered boys with and without hypospadias. Researchers analyzed use of hair cosmetics, chemicals, and pesticides. According to the study, use of hair cosmetic was associated with an 80 percent increased with hypospadias. Authors did not identify a relationship with other chemicals such as paint, solvents, gasoline, ink, glue, and household products.
Each year, more than 1,500 surgeries are performed to correct hypospadias.
“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,” said Paul Anderson, consultant urologist at the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust. “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.”
Findings Supported by Previous Research
This is not the only study to identify a link between hairspray use and hypospadias. In 2008, a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that women with occupational exposure to hairspray were twice as likely to have a son with hypospadias.
Researchers suspected that phthalates in hairspray may disrupt hormone production during pregnancy. The study also suggests that taking folic acid during the first trimester reduces the risk of hypospadias.
One of the authors on the 2008 study was Professor Paul Elliott, who commented at the time 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. It is encouraging that our study showed that taking folic acid supplements in pregnancy may reduce the risk of a child being born with the condition. Further research is needed to understand better why women exposed to hairspray at work in the first 3 months of pregnancy may have increased risk of giving birth to a boy with hypospadias.”
What is Hypospadias?
Hypospadias is a birth defect where the opening of the urethra forms in the wrong place. The abnormality occurs when the urethra is developing in between the eighth and 14th week of pregnancy. There are several different types of hypospadias, depending on where the opening of the urethra is located.
With subcoronal hypospadias, the opening of the urethra forms close to the head of the penis. When the urethra is located along the shaft of the penis, it is known as a midshaft hypospadias. Penoscrotal hypospadias is when the urethra opening forms where the penis and scrotum meet.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hypospadias is one of the most common birth defects affecting 5 out of every 1,000 boys born each year in the United States.
Hypospadias can cause abnormal spraying of urine, problems with intercourse, and difficulty urinating while standing.