Environ Res. 2022 Apr 15;206:112376. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.112376. Epub 2021 Nov 17.
Personal care products (PCPs) refer to a wide variety of items commonly characterized as health or beauty products. PCPs contain a number of ingredients, often including a wide range of endocrine disrupting chemicals such as phthalates and parabens. The present study examines the association between self-reported PCP use and prenatal sex-steroids and thyroid hormones levels in women from Puerto Rico. We recruited pregnant women (n = 1070) through the Puerto Rico PROTECT Cohort and collected blood, demographic and pregnancy-related data at recruitment and subsequent visits. PCP use in the 48-h preceding the blood sample was collected through self-reported questionnaires. Nine hormones (corticotropin-releasing hormone [CRH], sex-hormone binding globulin [SHBG], estriol [E3], progesterone, testosterone, thyroid-stimulating hormone [TSH], total triiodothyronine [T3], total thyroxine [T4], and free thyroxine [fT4]) were measured in maternal serum samples at two points during pregnancy. Linear mixed models with random intercepts were used to examine associations between PCP use and serum hormone levels. Use of cosmetics significantly increased with age, household income and education level (p < 0.01). Use of hair products, such as hair dyes and bleach, relaxers, and mousse, was associated with lower levels of all sex steroid hormones compared to non-use: SHBG (%Δ = -7.1, 95%CI: -12.4,-1.8), E3 (%Δ = -23.2, 95%CI: -32.2,-13.0), progesterone (%Δ = -21.5, 95%CI: -29.4,-12.9) and testosterone (%Δ = -21.5, 95%CI: -33.1,-7.8) adjusted for maternal age, education and pre-pregnancy body mass index. Our findings suggest that household income and education level influence PCP use among pregnant women in this study. Use of certain hair products was associated with lower concentrations of sex steroid hormones. Although there are limitations to questionnaire data, characterizing PCP use is inexpensive and may represent exposure from multiple classes of chemicals, including chemicals that may not specifically appear on product labels and/or have not been tested for endocrine disrupting potential, making it a useful complement to chemical biomarker data.