Pregnancy is no cakewalk, from what I hear. Sometimes you feel inexplicably weepy. Sometimes you get adult acne. Sometimes your feet swell up so much that you go up a shoe size. Even Kate Middleton was hospitalized for severe morning sickness, and she's a shapeshifting lizard person. The worst part? While that little creature is growing inside you, punching you in the stomach from the inside and making you feel fat and moody and weird, you can't even relax with a vodka martini, or a meth pipe, or a handful of MDMA.
There are a lot of other things you aren't allowed to do, in fact. And according to a study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, you can add wearing makeup to that list, since apparently the chemicals in certain cosmetics can make your unborn child stupid.
The chemicals in question are called d i-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP), and they're commonly found in lipstick, hairspray, and nail polish. In the study, researchers measured pregnant women's exposure to these phthalates during their third trimester, and then measured their kids' IQ levels at age seven. Their data showed that the kids' IQs were significantly lower if their mothers had greater exposure to the chemicals.
I'm sure a bunch of pregnant ladies are dropping their copies of What to Expect When You're Expecting right now so they can rush to their makeup bags and see if they've been exposed to this stuff. But if pregnant women avoided all of the things that allegedly cause problems in their kids, they'd also have to stay away from hot tubs, Brie cheese, all the fun rides at Disneyland, deli meat, microwave ovens, tap water, sleeping on your back, changing the cat litter, and on, and on, and on, and on.
By the way, phthalates are also sometimes found in dryer sheets and soap, so you should probably give up on your hygiene while pregnant, too.
Nobody wants to put their unborn child at risk for defects—but you would literally have to go live in a cave to avoid everything that's potentially risky while pregnant, and even then you'd have to worry about sharp rocks. Plus, most of the studies that detail these risks involve small sample sizes and a lot of ambiguity. As far as the correlation between phthalate exposure and kids' IQ levels, we don't know a whole lot about the families who were studied, or what else these kids were exposed to in utero (except that their moms were nonsmokers). That's not say that these chemicals—or any of the other things pregnant women are advised to avoid—are safe, but it's also not to say you're fucked if you paint your toenails or take a dip in a hot tub while you're with child. And honestly no one should expect you to give up deli meat for nine months. That's just fucked.
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