Prenatal Urinary Triclosan Concentrations and Child Neurobehavior (Lay summary)

Etzel T, Muckle G, Arbuckle TE, Fraser WD, Ouellet E, Séguin JR, Lanphear BP, Braun JM. Environment International 2018 May;114:152-159. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2018.02.032.

Triclosan is a chemical sometimes used as a preservative or to kill bacteria in various household products (e.g., body lotions, shampoos, fragrances, deodorants, antimicrobial soaps and hand sanitizers, mouthwash, and toothpaste). A few studies have suggested that prenatal exposure to triclosan may be associated with changes in thyroid hormone levels and that this may lead to adverse effects on child behavior and cognition.  Cognition is a range of mental processes such as thinking, reasoning, or remembering.

This study was designed to examine the association of prenatal exposure to triclosan with child behaviors and cognition.  Triclosan was measured in first trimester urine of participants in the MIREC Study.  At around 3 years of age, the child’s cognitive abilities and behaviors were assessed by various tests administered to the child as well as reported by the parent.  Data were analysed on close to 800 mother-child pairs.

The results suggested that triclosan exposure during early pregnancy was not associated with adverse effects on the child’s cognitive ability or their behaviors.

More studies are needed to see whether similar results are found in other populations.  One of the limitations of this study was that triclosan was only measured once.  Future studies should examine these associations by analysing multiple urine samples for triclosan during pregnancy and early childhood.  This type of study could show if there are particular periods when the fetus or young child may be more at risk.