Possible Eczema Cause: Butyl What?
I enjoy reading articles about health and of course skin issues, mainly what causes eczema and new eczema treatments on the market. I happened to come across an article today that caught my eye. This information was originally published June 26th online in Environmental Health Perspectives and states that pregnant mothers that were exposed to higher levels of butylbenzyl phthalate (BBzP), have babies that are 52% more likely to have eczema by 24 months old. If you’re like me you asked, “What on God’s green earth is BBzP”?
According to Wikipedia it is also called n-butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP) or benzyl butyl phthalate, which is a phthalate, mostly used as a plasticizer for PVC and is considered to be a toxicant. BBzP is often used in vinyl flooring, artificial leather and other materials, and can be slowly released into the air in homes.
The study examined 407 African-American and Dominican-American women living in New York City who were in their third trimester of pregnancy. The amount of BBzP in the body is assessed by the concentration of monobenzyl phthalate (MBzP) in the urine. The researchers found that over 99% of the samples contained MBzP and when the babies were at 24 months old, 30% had developed eczema.
The researchers were not clear how BBzP would induce eczema so they also looked at allergies as a possible variant in the equation. Children were tested for 3 common indoor allergens including cockroaches, dust mites and mice as well as Immunoglobulin E (IgE) which tests for additional antibodies that are associated with allergic reactions. (Hmm, didn’t even know cockroaches were an allergen!) They didn’t find any correlation between allergies and eczema in this particular study and this may be solely due to the BBzP exposure itself.
Other interesting facts mentioned in this study:
- Another interesting finding was that African-American mothers were twice as likely as the Dominican-American mothers to report that their child had developed eczema although both groups had similar exposure rates to BBzP.
- Previous research by this study’s co-author Robin M. Whyatt, D.Ph., Professor of Clinical Environmental Health Sciences and Co-Deputy Director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health, found that exposure to BBzP and other phthalates was also linked to delayed motor skill development in young children and increased behavioral problems.
- Phthalates are also known to disrupt the body’s endocrine system which helps to regulate and maintain various body functions by making and releasing hormones which help with stress and injury, growth and development, absorption of nutrients, energy metabolism, water and electrolyte balance, reproduction, birth, and lactation.
Interesting information, and what did we learn? Stay away from vinyl flooring and faux leather for sure. I know for a fact, we had vinyl floors in our kitchen when my mom was pregnant with me…I also wonder why they only chose to study African-American and Dominican-American women. And what type of flooring/furniture etc. did they all have???
I am sure there will be additional research done on this subject and I look forward to reading more about it.
For your additional reading pleasure feel free to read the below: