A small study of pregnant women found that the chemicals commonly found in plastics and body products like perfumes, lipsticks and lotions may contribute to a woman having postpartum depression after her baby is born.

This news isn't particularly new to us as natural parenting mothers but does continue to support the need to eliminate exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals like bisphenols (BPA) and phthalates.

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Researchers looked at 139 women who were pregnant and assessed their levels of BPA and phthalates in their urine and in their blood.

They noted that women who had higher levels of phthalates in their urine were more likely to develop postpartum depression. They also discovered the women who had higher levels of the chemicals in their bodies also had lower levels of progesterone. Progesterone is a key hormone for not just a woman's menstrual cycle but in early pregnancy and mood-regulating as well.

Dr. Melanie Jacobson, Ph.D., M.P.H is with the NYW Langone Medical Center, and is the lead author of the study. She said that her team found, "That phthalate exposure was associated with lower progesterone levels during pregnancy and a greater likelihood of developing postpartum depression."

This is important information as phthalates are so prevalent in our day-to-day lives and environment. She went on to say that they are detectable in nearly all women in the United States and reducing the exposure and levels in a woman's system may be a plausible path for preventing postpartum depression.

Studies have already shown that these chemicals have increased risks of miscarriage and gestational diabetes linked to them, as well as harmful effects on the baby in utero.

Dr. Jacobson said that the small sample size should be noted when interpreting the results, and caution should be exercised, but it shows that the issue is worth further investigation because postpartum depression is so prevalent. The CDC claims that 1 in 5 women suffer from postpartum depression.

The scary part is that these chemicals are found all over the place--cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, building materials, toys...they enter the body's system very easily and can wreak havoc.

All the more reason to avoid buying foods in plastic packages (opt for glass if possible) and staying away from anything with fragrances (unless naturally scented--synthetic fragrance like in candles, dryer sheets and anything lotion are big disruptors). Additionally consider what you're drinking out of, what you're putting on your body and hair and what cleaning products you're using.

In this world, it's hard to avoid these chemicals in a lot of places, but the more we try, the less exposure we'll have, and the better a world we'll build for our kids.

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