Pregnant Women Warned Not to Use Antibacterial Soaps

Pregnant Women Warned Not to Use Antibacterial Soaps

Scientists will present new research today at the annual American Chemical Society concerning common antibacterial compounds and the harmful effects on expecting mothers and their unborn babies. As a result, pregnant women are being advised to avoid potentially harmful compounds until the FDA completes a full review on their use and effects. 

In this new study by Arizona State University, researchers looked at the exposure of pregnant women and their foetuses to two of the most commonly used germ-killers in everyday products – triclosan and triclocarban.

Scientists argue that there is increasing evidence that link these compounds to developmental and and fertility problems. Some research also suggests that additives in some soaps could also contribute to antibiotic resistance – a growing public health concern. 

Dr. Laura Geer at the SUNY Downstate School of Public Health explained:

These chemicals have had adverse impacts on growth and development in animal studies and there is suggestion they may have similar impacts in humans.

 Study contributor Benny Pycke explains the detection of chemicals: 

We found triclosan in all of the urine samples from the pregnant women that we screened. We also detected it in about half of the umbilical cord blood samples we took, which means it transfers to foetuses. Triclocarban was also in many of the samples.

The study also found a link  with another widely-used antimicrobial called butyl paraben – often used in cosmetics. 

In the long-term,  Dr. Greer warns, these products can cause a subtle but large-scale shift in birth sizes. 

The FDA and Environmental Protection Agency are also reviewing the use and effects of the compounds. And In late May, Minnesota became the first state to prohibit the use of triclosan in most consumer hygiene products (with a ban in force as of January 2017). 

Triclosan and Triclocarban can be found in more than 2,000 everyday items – including dishwashing liquid and hand soap, making them hard to avoid. But Dr. Greer says you should do just that. She says:

You don’t need to use antibacterial soap. Just wash your hands with regular soap. It’s the time that you wash your hands that is most important.

This latest research sheds further light on the risks and lack of regulation of chemicals in everyday products and adds a lot of weight to the all-natural or organic consumer movement. Will you be shifting brands? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below. 


  1. says

    I switched away from antibacterial soaps many years ago. Method or The Body Shoppe brands tend to get my business now. Healthier alternatives — and they smell good too. (Though, I’m about ready to start making my own! Save money!)

  2. says

    This is very interesting becuase there was a push for using antibacterial soap for so long. I worked in a lab, which was icky work, when I was pregnant with my youngest. I had to use a strong antibacterial/antimicrobial soap in order to protect myself from those icky germs. I didn’t get sick as often when I worked there. Thankfully, I haven’t noticed any issues with my youngest being super sick. I breastfed him for 18 months and he stopped getting sick all the time after I pulled him out of daycare a year ago.

    I really think that kids aren’t exposed to enough germs. As a kid, I played in the dirt, probably even ate some on accident, and was exposed to icky stuff in moderation.

    There also have been a ton of blame on doctors for over using antibiotics, so I think it is a combination of all of these factors on why we are sicker today than in recent years. Times have changed and medicine is constantly improving.

  3. Rebecca Swenor says

    This is an awesome post and it is really interesting. I was totally unaware of any of this. I will have to read more about the antibacterial soaps. Thanks for sharing.

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