Girls are reaching sexual maturity at 9 years old thanks to fragrance, parabens and antibacterials in personal care products.
Girls exposed to chemicals commonly found in soap, toothpaste, makeup and other personal care products hit puberty earlier than their peers, a new study finds.
The study looked at three major groups of chemicals:
Phthalates – used in products that list “fragrance” on the label
Parabens – used as preservatives in cosmetics
Phenols – antibacterial agents used in soaps, hand sanitizer and toothpaste such as triclosan
All three of these chemicals, widely found in personal care and household products, are known endocrine disruptors that interfere with sex hormones.
As they become concentrated in our environment and bodies, they’re causing girls to reach sexual maturity at younger and younger ages, researchers from the University of California Berkeley found.
For the study, they followed over 300 children from birth through adolescence.
More than 90 percent of 9-year-olds tested positive for all three of the hormone-altering chemicals.
Half of the girls in the study started growing pubic hair at age 9 and began menstruating at 10.
For every doubling in phthalate levels, girls developed pubic hair a month earlier. And with every doubling of triclosan, they started menstruating a month earlier.
“Specifically, we found that mothers with higher levels of diethyl phthalate, which is used in fragrance, and triclosan, which is an antibacterial agent in certain soaps and toothpaste – had daughters who entered puberty earlier,” said lead study author Kim Harley.
Triclosan is no longer allowed in antibacterial soap in the U.S., but it is still in toothpaste.
Harley advised consumers to avoid all products with “triclosan” or “parabens” or “fragrance” on the label.