Chemical in antibacterial soap fed to nursing rats harms offspring

June 17, 2013, The Endocrine Society

A mother's exposure to triclocarban, a common antibacterial chemical, while nursing her babies shortens the life of her female offspring, a new study in rats finds. The results were presented Monday at The Endocrine Society's 95th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

Commonly used in antibacterial soap and other , has the potential for a large portion of the public to be exposed to it, said the study's lead author, Rebekah Kennedy, a graduate student in the Department of Public Health at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

"Our study provides for the potential of triclocarban exposure during early life, specifically during the lactation period," Kennedy said. "The results indicate that a mother's long-term use of this compound might affect the early development of her offspring, at least according to our ."

Past studies by the senior investigator, Jiangang Chen, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee, showed that triclocarban enhances the growth of in the adult male rat. In this study, the researchers sought to learn if exposure to the same compound, either in the or during lactation, would affect rat pups.

Beginning on pregnancy day 5 and continuing until 21 days after giving birth, maternal rats continuously had free access to regular rat chow (the control rats) or chow supplemented with either 0.2 or 0.5 percent triclocarban. The doses found in the blood of maternal rats exposed to triclocarban correspond to of triclocarban in humans after a 15-minute whole-body shower using a bar soap containing 0.6 percent triclocarban, Chen said.

After birth, some littermates were moved to other groups so that each rat mother nursed two of her own pups and two pups from each of the other two groups. The offspring were weighed daily.

Body weight did not differ at birth among rat pups from the three groups, but by day 3, pups nursed by control rats were heavier than either triclocarban-exposed group, Kennedy reported. Pups nursed by rats that received 0.2 percent triclocarban were about half as heavy at weaning on day 21 as pups nursed by controls, and only 4 of 30 pups survived.

The investigators found that all pups nursed by the control rats survived until weaning, including those born to triclocarban-fed maternal rats but nursed by control rats. No pups nursed by rats that received the larger triclocarban dose, 0.5 percent, survived until day 6. Among pups nursed by rats that received the 0.2 percent dose of triclocarban, 57 percent reportedly lived to nine days after birth, and only 13% survived after weaning.

"Our data suggest that the critical exposure window affecting rat pup survival is related to lactation, as all pups raised by control rats survived regardless of triclocarban exposure status during gestation," Kennedy said.

Although the researchers did not measure triclocarban levels in the offspring, they speculate that the chemical entered the gastrointestinal tract through the mother's milk and affected the pups' growth and development.

The National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences supported this research.

Explore further: Does motherhood dampen cocaine's effects?

Related Stories

Does motherhood dampen cocaine's effects?

October 15, 2012
Mother rats respond much differently to cocaine than female rats that have never given birth, according to new University of Michigan research that looks at both behavior and brain chemistry.

Could novel drug target autism and fetal alcohol disorder?

June 13, 2013
In a surprising new finding, a Northwestern Medicine study has found a common molecular vulnerability in autism and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Both disorders have symptoms of social impairment and originate during brain ...

Eating junk food while pregnant may make your child a junk food addict

February 28, 2013
Here's another reason why a healthy diet during pregnancy is critical to the future health of your children: New research published in the March 2013 issue of The FASEB Journal, suggests that pregnant mothers who consume ...

Brain research shows two parents may be better than one

May 1, 2013
A team of researchers at the University of Calgary's Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) have discovered that adult brain cell production might be determined, in part, by the early parental environment. The study suggests that ...

Recommended for you

Accurate measurements of sodium intake confirm relationship with mortality

June 21, 2018
Eating foods high in salt is known to contribute to high blood pressure, but does that linear relationship extend to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death? Recent cohort studies have contested that relationship, ...

Fans of yoga therapy have yet to win over doctors

June 21, 2018
Yoga practitioners often tout the unique health benefits of the ancient discipline—from relieving stress and pain to improving vascular health—but most doctors remain sceptical in the absence of hard proof.

Fruit and vegetables linked to changes in skin colour, new research finds

June 21, 2018
Skin colour in young Caucasian men is strongly linked to high levels of fruit and vegetable consumption, new research by Curtin University has found.

What a pain: The iPad neck plagues women more

June 20, 2018
Is your iPad being a literal pain in the neck?

Medicaid work requirements and health savings accounts may impact people's coverage

June 20, 2018
Current experimental approaches in Medicaid programs—including requirements to pay premiums, contribute to health savings accounts, or to work—may lead to unintended consequences for patient coverage and access, such ...

Introduction of alcohol found to adversely impact fertility rates in hunter-gatherer community

June 19, 2018
Fernando Ramirez Rozzi, a research director with the French National Centre for Scientific Research has found that the introduction of alcohol to a Baka pygmy hunter-gatherer society caused fertility rates to fall. In his ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.