Need another reason to drop chemical detergents and pesticides from your list of household products? Pregnant women who are exposed to a wide range of solvents, pesticides and detergents have a much greater risk of giving birth to a boy with a genital defect. A French study led by a pediatric surgeon and a pediatric endocrinologist examined 600 children in four French cities over five years and found a link between exposure and use of these chemicals with an increased rate of particular birth defects. 300 of the children involved in the study were males born with a birth defect known as hypospadias, a condition in which the urinary opening is abnormally positioned on the penis, typically resulting in the need for surgery and also potentially affecting fertility later in life. Boys were three times more likely to be born with hypospadias if they had been exposed to endocrine system-disrupting chemicals during the stage of fetal development when sex is determined. The study identified both the professions of the parents and the proximity of the family (within 2 miles) to an incinerator, landfill, or chemical factory as risk factors. The at-risk professions included housekeepers, beauticians, hairdressers, lab workers, farmers, mechanics and painters.

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