Personal Care Product Chemicals may be Linked to Preterm Births

A new study indicates that chemicals that accumulate in the vagina, potentially originating from personal care products, may contribute to spontaneous preterm births*.


Study overview

The researchers measured over 700 different metabolites in the second-trimester metabolome (the complete set of small molecules found in a particular biological niche, including metabolites produced by local cells and microorganisms and molecules that come from external sources) of 232 pregnant women, including 80 pregnancies that ended prematurely.

The study found multiple metabolites that were significantly higher in women who had delivered early than in those who delivered at full term. According to the researchers, “Several of these metabolites are chemicals that are not produced by humans or microbes–what we call xenobiotics. These include diethanolamine, ethyl-beta glucoside, tartrate, and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid. While we did not identify the source of these xenobiotics in our participants, all could be found in cosmetics and hygiene products.”  (source)

*Preterm birth, childbirth before 37 weeks of pregnancy, is the number one cause of neonatal death and can lead to a variety of lifelong health issues. Two-thirds of preterm births occur spontaneously.

Journal reference:  Kindschuh, W.F., et al. (2023) Preterm birth is associated with xenobiotics and predicted by the vaginal metabolome. Nature Microbiology.