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Why Pregnancy and Triclosan Don't Mix

Posted by Administrator to Pregnancy
triclosan pregnancy

Triclosan is a synthetic anti-bacterial and anti-fungal substance commonly used in soap products that tout their anti-bacterial power. I've been reading about triclosan and learning more about it over the last 8 months or so and here's a summary of what I've discovered about why pregnancy and triclosan don't mix.

As with all information that can raise concerns in pregnant women, this information should serve as a starting point for you in your own considerations about what you want—and don't want—in your body while pregnant. Take the following information as it's intended: an impetus to learn more for yourself and make your own choices about what's right for you and your body. This is not intended as medical advice.

Where is Triclosan?

Used since the early 1970s, triclosan was first introduced into hospitals as a way to minimize bacterial infections among patients. Since then, triclosan has become quite prevalent throughout the United States, and is now a mainstay ingredient found in everything from hand and dish washing soaps to facial tissues and kitchenware, deodorants, toothpaste, face wash, and even furniture and children's toys.

Its use is now so widespread, in fact, that a recent study from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that more than 75% of people tested had triclosan in their urine.

Visit "Products that Contain Triclosan" to see brand names and examples of products you probably have at home that contain triclosan.

Is Triclosan Safe?

Throughout Europe, Canada and the United States, environmental and health associations have been calling the safety of triclosan into question. In April 2010, the FDA said it would speed up its review of triclosan over pressure about these safety concerns, but wasn't going to begin the review process until 2013. The current statement from the FDA is that:

Triclosan is not currently known to be hazardous to humans. But several scientific studies have come out since the last time FDA reviewed this ingredient that merit further review.

I'm personally not comforted by the phrase "not currently known to be hazardous." That doesn't mean that it's safe. It means we don't know.

Speaking of studies, the scientific studies mentioned by the FDA in the above quote suggested that:
  1. triclosan is contributing to antibiotic resistance
  2. triclosan is an endocrine disruptor—interferes with the body's hormones.

According to the New York Times article, "Antibacterial Chemical Raises Safety Issues," some of the studies forwarded to the FDA "have shown that triclosan disrupts the thyroid hormone in frogs and rats, while others have shown that triclosan alters the sex hormones of laboratory animals." 

Since your thyroid and sex hormones are critical to being able to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term, we don't want to mess with these. Are you with me on this?

Triclosan and Pregnancy

So here's where it gets even more intense for women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant. 

In 2010, University of Florida researchers discovered that triclosan interferes with the metabolism of estrogen in a pregnant woman's body. During pregnancy, this can affect not only the woman, but her fetus as well. 

According to the news release from the University of Florida, there are three critical ways this hormonal interference can negatively impact a fetus during pregnancy:

  1. Estrogen is needed to pass through the placenta, go into the fetus's body and help regulate fetal gene and brain development.
  2. Insufficient estrogen in the mother's body flowing can cause the uterine artery to constrict, depriving the baby of oxygen.
  3. The right balance of estrogen is needed to signal the uterus to contract and begin labor. "Too much estrogen could send the mother’s body into premature labor. Too little could hinder the flow of oxygen. Both instances could affect how the baby’s brain develops."
The potential negative consequences of a woman's exposure to triclosan before and during pregnancy are enough to make me want to avoid it at all costs and to urge, you, my pregnant readers, to try to avoid it, too.

Triclosan and Breastfeeding

After pregnancy, triclosan should still be a concern. Triclosan doesn't break down easily in the environment and so it's becoming ubiquitously present. According to the public health advocacy group Food and Water Watch:

antimicrobial chemicals appear in household dust where they may act as allergens, and alarmingly, 97 percent of U.S. women with newborns show detectable levels of triclosan in their breast milk. Such unnecessary exposures carry risks that, at present, are ill-defined.
(emphasis mine)

Great. Another environmental allergen that can wreak havoc on a newborn's immune system. Not the kind of news and information I like to share.

How to Avoid Triclosan

As much as you want to avoid catching a cold, coming down with the flu, contracting salmonella or otherwise exposing yourself to bacteria and germs during pregnancy, anti-bacterial products that contain triclosan shouldn't be your first line of defense.

Good hand-washing habits are enough. 
Lathering hands with plain old soap for 20-30 seconds, rinsing with warm water and drying with a clean towel provides the same level of health protection as using a product marked "anti-bacterial." Even the FDA states that there is no health benefit to using triclosan over basic hand-washing.

Thoroughly investigate products marked "anti-bacterial." 
Tea tree oil is considered a natural anti-bacterial/anti-fungal product, so you don't have to toss everything that's "anti-bacterial." Just be cautious when making a purchase, especially if the brand says it's "natural."

Avoid anything labeled Microban.
Microban is a proprietary brand name of triclosan.

Read ingredient labels on your soap, toothpaste, makeup, and deodorant.
If included in the formula, triclosan should be on the ingredients list.

If you want even more information about triclosan, where it is, how it's used and what concerns there are for women and children, visit Environmental Working Group and download their Guide to Triclosan.

Triclosan-Free Alternatives for Pregnant Women

I promise you that NOTHING at Maternitique contains triclosan. (Phew!) So, if you're ready to ditch your anti-bacterial Dial hand soap, Clean & Clear Facial Cleanser, and Murad Acne Body Wash, here are some alternatives:

Hand Soap & Body Wash

Natural Non-Scents Hand to Toe Wash from Earth Mama Angel Baby
Luxe-Mama Pregnancy Body Wash from The Spoiled Mama
Mandarin Creme Organic Body Wash from Mambino Organics

Acne Facial Wash

Acne Clearing Facial Wash by Belli Pregnancy
Organic Fruit Face Wash by Novena Maternal Skin Care
Let’s Be Clear by Pretty Mommies

Acne Treatments

Organic Citrus Blemish Lotion by Novena Maternal Skin Care
Overnight Blemish SOS by Mambino Organics

Baby Skin Care

Thanks for reading,



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