Children Exposed to Triclosan Products May Face Increased Allergy Risk

A new study has found that children and teenagers exposed to too many <"">antibacterial soaps containing triclosan could be at risk for allergies. According to the researchers, too much cleanliness could be a bad thing.

Health Day News reports that the study discovered that overexposure to the polycarbonate plastics chemical, bisphenol A (BPA) could also weaken adult immune systems.

Triclosan is an antimicrobial that is ubiquitously used in so-called antibacterial soaps, toothpaste, medical devices, and even diaper bags, noted Health Day News. BPA, a known estrogenic mimicker is used in sippy cups, water bottles, dental sealants, CDs and DVDs, thermal receipt paper, and nautical resins.

Researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health reviewed data from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, comparing triclosan and BPA urine levels with cytomegalovirus (CMV) antibody levels and diagnoses of allergies or hay fever in people over the age of 6, said Health Day News.

“We found that people over age 18 with higher levels of BPA exposure had higher CMV antibody levels, which suggests their cell-mediated immune system may not be functioning properly,” wrote study first author Erin Rees Clayton in a university news release, quoted Health Day News. The team discovered that children and teenagers who tested with increased triclosan levels were likelier to be diagnosed with hay fever and other allergies. Study findings are published in the November 30 online edition of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

“The triclosan findings in the younger age groups may support the ‘hygiene hypothesis,’ which maintains living in very clean and hygienic environments may impact our exposure to microorganisms that are beneficial for development of the immune system,” wrote principal investigator Allison Aiello, an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, in the news release. Aiello said, quoted Health Day News, “It is possible that a person can be too clean for their own good,” pointing out that triclosan could alter those microorganisms people typically encounter in such a way that pediatric immune system development could be altered.

As we’ve reported previously, triclosan was developed as a surgical scrub, but is now widely used in consumer products such as soap and body washes, toothpaste, clothing, kitchenware, furniture and toys. Though companies that market triclosan products claim they are safe, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered it as a pesticide and has rated it high for human health risk and environmental risk. In 2005, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) concluded that antimicrobial soaps and sanitizers do not reduce the risk of illness and infection in the home.

In April 2010, the agency issued a “Consumer Update” stating it did not have evidence that triclosan-containing antibacterial soaps and body washes provide any extra health benefit over soap and water alone. Since September 2010, a handful of consumer class action lawsuits have been filed against Dial Corporation over its Dial Complete claims.

Also, the American Medical Association House of Delegates recently called for a ban on the sale of baby bottles and infant feeding cups containing BPA and is also calling for improved federal oversight of the anti-androgen and to mandate clear product labeling to include BPA when it is a component.

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