Makeup Can Make Your Child Overweight

All makeup-junkie mommies-to-be, pay heed! Excessive use of lotions, moisturizers and skin-care products containing “paraben” can lead to the birth of overweight infant.

A new study by Berlin University Hospital has revealed that chemical butylparaben (nPuB) is positively linked with weight gain in babies. The researchers, led by Beate Leppert, conducted a LINA cohort study (Lifestyle and Environmental factors and their influence on Newborns Allergy risk) to find out the effect of prenatal paraben exposure on infant weight.

Paraben is a chemical used as preservatives in cosmetics. It prevents the growth of bacteria and germs in the product. Most commonly used parabens are methyl, propyl, butyl, and ethyl paraben. Makeup products, such as moisturizers, hair care products and deodorant contain generous amounts of parabens.

The study had two phases: in phase I, pregnant women were tested whereas the phase II was conducted in mice.

Human Study

In the human study, pregnant women that were exposed to parabens were followed and assessed between 2006-2008. Urine samples at 34 weeks were collected and lifestyle, housing and environmental conditions along with cosmetic products used throughout the pregnancy were assessed with the help of a questionnaire.

Data on usage of paraben containing or paraben-free leave-on products during pregnancy was available from 414 participants. 26% used one cosmetic leave-on product having parabens whereas 56% used paraben-free leave-on products only. Rinse-off products give less exposure time to parabens.  When urine results came, it is showed that mothers using paraben containing products had a threefold higher concentration of methyl, ethyl and n-propyl and n-butylparaben compared to women using paraben-free products.

Animal Study

When given to mice, paraben induced higher food intake by altering POMC mediated neuronal appetite regulation.

Parabens increased fat (adipocytes) differentiation in mouse. To verify the observation and check this effect on human adipocytes human mesenchymal stem cell, the researchers applied differentiation assay. Adipocytes’ differentiation was not altered by nBuP exposure or by other parabens in LINA. There was no evidence of PPAR gemma activation by NBuP. There was no activation of androgen, progesterone, and glucocorticoids but exerted an impact on the estrogen receptor. Leptin (fat hormone) exposure remained downregulated by nBuP exposure with effect at 0.5um. For checking validity, secretion of adiponectin and leptin in cell culture was assessed. Leptin secretion was approved after exposure to nBuP at 10um. After comparing the results of humans in vitro analysis with the mouse, it showed no direct effect of nBuP exposure on fat cell production. In the human body, leptin activates POMC neurons that activate satiety levels via the a-MSH release. Reduced leptin may lead to inappropriate satiety signals that may increase food intake.

Increased Weight in Female Offsprings

Mice were exposed to parabens during breastfeeding and measured the child’s body weight. 1.75um nBuP was used and its concentration was found to be an incomparable range as observed in the LINA study. Female offsprings showed increased weight gain than control animals with an increased weight of 20 to 45% compared to 10% in control. Male offsprings were not affected. Female mice showed an increase in food intake as compared to control. Exposure of nBuP did not affect weight gain, food intake, and leptin of female adult mice.

In short, during pregnancy, if exposure to nBuP increases, it could lead to weight gain. This is due to the altered expression of POMC which has a significant role in controlling neuronal regulation of food intake. This study shows the environmental risk factors and how they can affect pregnancy and weight gain.

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