Chemical in toothpastes damage brain

London: Toothpastes and soaps contain a chemical that can leave unborn babies brain damaged, according to scientists.

They fear pregnant women who are exposed to high levels of the chemical, called triclosan, may be putting their babies at risk.

Alarming new findings suggest triclosan, a powerful anti-bacterial that was developed nearly 50 years ago, may disrupt the flow of blood to the uterus, starving a baby’s brain of the oxygen it needs to develop properly.

“We know it’s a problem. But we just don’t know how much of a problem,” the Daily Mail quoted Professor Margaret James of the University of Florida as saying.

Triclosan is commonly used in everything from toothpastes, deodorants and handwashes to washing-up liquid, anti-bacterial chopping boards and even some toys.

However, it has been dogged by concerns over its safety and earlier this year the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. announced it was carrying out a major review on its safety.

In the latest study, tests on sheep showed it interferes with an enzyme that allows the hormone oestrogen to circulate in the womb.

Oestrogen helps to keep open the main artery carrying oxygen-rich blood to the foetus.

If there is too little, this artery narrows and oxygen supplies are depleted.