Los Angeles: Exposure to an antibacterial chemical common in personal care products such as soaps and lotions during pregnancy may be harmful to the baby, a study warns.
Triclocarban (TCC) is among the top 10 most commonly detected wastewater contaminants in concentration and frequency.
Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US found that exposure TCC can transfer from mother to offspring and interfere with lipid metabolism.
Lipids are naturally occurring molecules that include fats, waxes, fat-soluble vitamins, monoglycerides, diglycerides, triglycerides and others.
The main biological function of lipids is storing energy and signalling, and acting as structural components of cell membranes.
"Our results are significant because of the potential risk of exposure to TCC through contaminated water sources and in the living environment, and the potential adverse effects resulting from this exposure during development," said Heather Enrigh, biologist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
"Early life exposure to TCC has the potential to cause irreversible outcomes due to the fragile nature of organ systems and protective mechanisms in developing offspring," Enrigh added.
Researchers studied mice during gestation and lactation to see if exposure to TCC would transfer from mother to offspring.
They administered TCC laced with carbon-14 to trace how the contaminant distributed in organ systems of female mice and exposed offspring.
Using accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS), researchers quantified TCC concentrations in offspring and their mothers after exposure.
Researchers found that TCC-related compounds were detected in the tissues of offspring with significantly higher concentrations in the brain, heart and fat.
In addition to the transfer from mother to offspring, exposed offspring were heavier in weight than unexposed mice - demonstrating an 11 per cent and 8.5 per cent increase in body weight for females and males, respectively, researchers said.
"We demonstrated that TCC does effectively transfer from mother to offspring, both trans-placentally and via lactation," Enright said.
"Exposure to TCC during development may pose a serious health risk to the developing embryo and foetus, as they are more sensitive to alterations in hormone levels, which may result in changes that often are irreversible," Enright added.
The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.