Being pregnant can be equal parts exciting and terrifying. You can’t wait to pick out names and nursery décor, but you’ve likely also fallen into the black hole of Google, researching everything that touches your skin to make sure it won’t cause harm to your baby. And while most of the hair, skin, and makeup products you use are safe to continue during pregnancy, new research published in Reproductive Toxicology suggests that if you use certain chemical sunscreens it might be time to toss the tube.
The study found a link between oxybenzone—an organic compound used in chemical sunscreens which turn UV rays into heat and then release it from the body—and a birth defect called Hirschsprung’s disease. The rare disease, which affects an infant’s large intestine, occurs in one out of 5,000 children and may require surgery.
“When it’s time to have a bowel movement there are neurotransmitters that are sent from the body to the colon to signal this. But with Hirschsprung’s disease there’s no transmitter there for it to reach the colon, and as a result the infant gets constipated,” says Thomas Dardarian, D.O., president of the American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists in Fort Worth, Texas.
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