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Hairspray Linked to Male Birth Defect

Phthalates May be to Blame

Scientists in England have published a study showing an association between a genital birth defect in boys, called hypospadias, and women's exposure to hairspray in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Hypospadias refers to a birth defect in which the urinary opening is displaced to the underside of the penis. About 1 in 250 boys in Britain and the United States are affected.

According to the paper, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, women who are exposed to hairspray in early pregnancy have a 2 to 3 fold increased risk of giving birth to a son with hypospadias.

The scientists, from the Imperial College London, University College Cork and the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, believe that the chemicals in hairspray called phthalates may be responsible. They note that earlier studies have looked at the potential for these chemicals to disrupt the body's hormonal systems, and affect reproductive development.

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Published on Nov-21-08


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