Frightening to even think about, but researchers may have discovered a link between chemicals found in most household hygiene products and birth defects!
The chemicals are known as quaternary ammonium compounds, or “quats.”
“These chemicals are regularly used in the home, hospitals, public spaces and swimming pools.”
Used as disinfectants and preservatives in items like shampoos, cleaners, laundry detergents, and even food preservatives and eye drops, they might lead to birth defects of the spine, brain, or spinal cord.
Although the research has been done on mice, Terry Hrubec, who is the first author on the study and the associate professor at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) in Virginia, US, states that exposure to the mentioned chemicals resulted in neural tube birth defects, which hold the same position as spina bifida and anencephaly birth defects in humans.
“Birth defects were seen when both males and females were exposed, as well as when only one parent was exposed,” said Hrubec, potentially raising the scope of parental care to include the father.
What worries is that the effects of the “quats” (alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride and didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride) were present even when the mice weren’t dosed with the chemicals. The research showed that all it took for the birth defects to take place is the quat-based cleaners to be used in the same room!
Furthermore, the effects of the chemicals persisted for two generations after stopping the exposure. The researchers warn that though the tests have been done on mice and rats, the chemicals may be toxic to humans.
The details of the study can be found in the Birth Defects Research journal.