Researchers from the University of Florida have found a connection between antibacterial chemicals and pregnancy. Triclosan is the chemical in question. Triclosan is used in a long list of antibacterial products such as toothpaste, socks, soaps, and lotions. What researchers found was a connection between Triclosan and the metabolism of the female hormone, estrogen.
Triclosan actually impedes the metabolism of estrogen, according to the study.
More specifically, estrogen sulfotransferase passes through the placenta and takes estrogen along with it which helps with fetal brain development. If Triclosan passes through the placental wall, it could cause significant damage to the fetus by simply stopping the work estrogen is there to do.
Lead author, Margaret O. James PhD states, “We know for sure it is a very potent inhibitor. What we don't know is the kinds of levels you would have to be exposed to see a negative effect. We know it is a problem, but we don't know how much of a problem. We need to move forward and do additional studies."
Estrogen plays a huge part in pregnancy for both the mother and fetus. After conception, the reproductive hormone turns superhuman – regulating oxygen delivery to the fetus from mom and signaling the uterus it is time for labor. If Triclosan’s effect on estrogen were strong enough, the fetus could receive too little oxygen or the pregnancy could be forced into C-section.
Researchers are at a point where they have no idea how much contact with Triclosan is too much. They know the interaction is there, but further studies are needed to reveal just how much antibacterial is too much.
Source: Charles Wood Ph.D. and Margaret O. James PhD. Environment International. November 2011.