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The following introduction is from the Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina (1).
Concern for cosmetic products should also carry over to all women as chemical based hair dyes, hair sprays, facial make-ups and finger nail polish are routinely used by the majority of American women. Many of these chemicals were stated as being mutagenic (having the ability to damage the genes and chromosomes) in a paper by the Toxic Chemicals Laboratory, New York State College (2).
Mental Retardation Linked to Cosmetic Chemical Exposure
Research showing an association between the mothers occupational exposure and mental retardation in offspring was also reviewed by the Department of Medical Informatics, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands, in a report entitled Reproductive Disorders Due To Chemical Exposure Among Hairdressers (11). In one of the studies, a dissertation by a student at the University of Nijmegen, Netherlands, investigated 306 mentally retarded children and their mothers job occupations. Significantly increased odds ratios were found for hairdressers working in the first or second month of pregnancy and in the third through the fifth months of pregnancy. Results showed a 3.7 times increased risk for having a mentally retarded child for women exposed to hair care products or dyes.
In a study of 76 children with neural tube defects in Venezuela, two researchers, Hammond & Canache (10) found that 13.6% of the mothers were hairdressers but only 1.3% of the mothers of a control group were hairdressers. Further stressing the dangers of cosmetic chemicals, a study reported by the School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, found that full-time cosmetologists had nearly twice the risk of having a spontaneous abortion (12).
As several research articles have found increased genetic abnormalities occurring in pregnancies resulting in spontaneous abortion, the following investigation of women working around the chemicals used in cosmetics raises concern.
Spontaneous Abortions Higher Among Cosmetologists
Working in the cosmetics industry increases the chance of having a pregnancy end in spontaneous abortion. This was the conclusion of a research study partially funded by the March of Dimes Foundation and conducted at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health. Researchers investigated over 1,000 live births and spontaneous abortions among cosmetologists and other occupations, including comparison to women who stayed at home. Results showed that women employed full-time as cosmetologists (35 or more hours per week) had a higher rate of spontaneous abortion than women in other jobs. The researchers analyzed different working exposures for the cosmetologists in an attempt to identify which cosmetology practices were more dangerous. The table below lists different cosmetology working conditions and the corresponding increased risk of having a spontaneous abortion.
COSMETOLOGY WORK PRACTICES
AND INCREASED SPONTANEOUS ABORTIONS
Survey Of 1,249 Births And Spontaneous Abortions
In summary, the researchers stated,
Epidemiology, 5(4):147-155, Spontaneous Abortions among Cosmetologists, Esther M. John, David A. Savitz, and Carl M. Shy, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina