Certain EDCs linked to allergy risk in kids

June 25, 2012

Urinary levels of the antimicrobial endocrine-disrupting compounds triclosan and parabens were significantly associated with allergic sensitization in children ages 6 to 18 years, according to the results of a study published online June 18 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Urinary levels of the antimicrobial endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDC) triclosan and parabens were significantly associated with allergic sensitization in children ages 6 to 18 years, according to the results of a study published online June 18 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Jessica H. Savage, MD, MHS, Johns Hopkins Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Baltimore, Md., and colleagues sought to determine the association of EDCs with allergic sensitization, given that the chemicals have been found to have immune-modulating effects in other studies.

According to the authors, their findings are consistent with what has been referred to as the hygiene hypothesis, which suggests that exposure to common pathogens in early childhood is key to building healthy immune responses, and lack of exposure may result in an overactive immune system that mobilizes a response to harmless substances like food proteins, pollen, and pet dander.

The Johns Hopkins researchers pooled data from the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to examine the relationship between urinary levels of bisphenol A; triclosan; benzophenone-3; and propyl, methyl, butyl, and ethyl parabens; and blood levels of specific IgE antibodies in 860 children.

In analyses adjusted for urinary creatinine level, age, sex, ethnicity, and poverty index ratio, the researchers found that children with the highest levels of triclosan - an antibacterial agent used in soaps, mouthwash, and toothpaste - also had the highest levels of food IgE antibodies and were, therefore, the highest risk of allergies compared with those who had the lowest levels of triclosan. Also, children with the highest urinary levels of propyl and butyl parabens - preservatives found in cosmetics, food, and medications - were more likely to have detectable levels of environmental IgE antibodies compared with those who had low paraben levels.

The authors noted that the antimicrobial properties of triclosan and parabens may be a driving force behind their effect on the immune system; however, the findings do not demonstrate that the agents themselves cause allergies.

“The potential role of antimicrobial EDCs in allergic disease warrants further study because they are commonly used in Western society,” the authors concluded.