Antibacterials in Personal Care Products Linked to Allergy Risk in Children

Exposure to common antibacterial chemicals and preservatives found in products such as soap, toothpaste, and mouthwash may make children more prone to a wide range of food and environmental allergies, according to new research from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

Using existing data from a national health survey of 860 children ages 6 to 18, the researchers “saw a link between level of exposure, measured by the amount of antimicrobial agents in the urine, and allergy risk, indicated by circulating antibodies to specific allergens,” said lead investigator Jessica Savage, M.D., M.H.S., an allergy and immunology fellow at Hopkins.

Researchers caution the findings do not demonstrate that antibacterials and preservatives themselves cause the allergies, but instead suggest that these agents play a role in immune system development.

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