It’s long been assumed that exposure to certain chemicals during pregnancy could be linked to high blood pressure, but that has just been debunked — for early stages, at least.
In a study published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health conducted by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, researchers determined that being exposed to many chemicals often used in cosmetics actually reduces blood pressure.
This goes against conventional wisdom, which initially thought that environmental chemicals will increase blood pressure, thus putting mothers, and their babies at risk of a variety of issues. It seems pretty straight forward, and even logical, but there was little scientific support for such a claim, according to Medical Express.
To challenge this hypothesis, the researchers ran tests on women across Europe as south as Spain to as North as Norway. First, urine samples were taken three times a day for one week in both the second and third trimester, then at the end of each week, blood pressure was monitored. The study looked into the exposure of around 21 chemicals and pesticides that are normally found in the home (mostly in food and cosmetic products), and the results went against what conventional wisdom taught us.
These chemicals actually stay in a pregnant body for a very short time and decrease blood pressure. Interestingly enough, however, the pesticides did not have any effect.
"Our findings do not support the hypothesis suggested by previous studies of a hypertensive effect of phthalates, phenols or pesticides during pregnancy," says Maribel Casas, who coordinated the study.
Essentially, it could be explained that the chemicals tested—such as bisphenol A (which people can be exposed to through fast food packaging, and cans), along with phthalates (used in soaps, hair spray, and nail polish) and parabens (often found in hair care and shaving products)—mimic the way our hormones work when eaten, rubbed into the skin, or even breathed in, which could ultimately impact blood pressure.
Yet, while this study does break new ground, it didn’t didn’t cover the later periods of pregnancy, which could actually skew the results. During those stages, the body is more prone to hypersensitivity, thus, potentially at least, creating the cocktail that creates higher blood pressure.
Still, it’s pretty interesting that we’ve been operating under almost unverified information for so long. While this study isn’t necessarily perfect, it could ease the minds of soon-to-be mothers who are in their early stages of pregnancy and unsure how their everyday products impact themselves and the tiny human they're carrying.
With all that in mind, there is a growing movement of people (not just those who are pregnant) trying to limit exposure some of the chemicals listed, so moderating things like bisphenol A, or parabens is probably not the worst thing you can do for yourself regardless.