Most pregnant women concern about what may affect the well-being of their growing babies in the food they consume. As a result, they switch to organic food in hope of avoiding exposing themselves to antibiotics, hormones, pesticides and fertilizer. However, many mums-to-be may ignore what could be entering into their babies’ bodies through their skin. When we slather on body lotion, apply sun cream and other daily routine skincare products onto our skin, harmful chemicals are absorbed into our bloodstream and eventually passed to placenta and the fetus, posting threats to the babies’ rapidly developing yet vulnerable organs and systems.
In the research conducted by Environmental Working Group in 2005, 287 commercial chemicals were detected in the umbilical cord blood from 10 randomly selected American newborn babies, out of which 180 cause cancer in human or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 may lead to developmental problems. The chemicals found include pollutants, pesticides and consumer chemicals in our daily lives. (Jane et al., 2005)When we are using house hold cleaners, pumping gas, eating canned tuna, applying nail polish as well as our daily skincare and makeup during pregnancy, we unknowingly expose our babies to hundreds of hazardous chemicals. Those chemicals absorbed into mums’ bodies during pregnancy and breastfeeding months can put babies’ health at a greater risk.
Babies are extremely vulnerable to chemical harms, as their systems to detoxify and excrete chemicals are not yet fully developed. Their lower level of chemical-binding proteins lets in more chemicals to reach “target organs”, while their immature blood-brain barrier (BBB) results in more chemical exposures to the developing brain. (NAS 1993)
The achievements in medical development over the past few decades have significantly reduced the chance of getting infectious childhood diseases. However, the past 30 years have also witnessed the increase in cases of childhood diseases such as asthma, childhood brain cancer and acute lymphocytic leukemia. (CDC 2004, Jahnke et al. 2005, Trasande and Landrigan 2004). Early life exposure to environmental pollutant has been identified by scientists as one of the main suspect causes for the rise in number.
To protect our babies from early stage chemical exposure, FLORAE uses 100% natural and contamination-free ingredients. The products are carefully crafted to cater to the special needs of mums-to-be and breastfeeding mums. Furthermore, to make sure mums may have their glow with peace of mind during pregnancy and nursing, Florae works with pharmaceutical researcher to screen through and leave out any potentially harmful or red-flagged ingredients with links to birth defects, miscarriage or other health concerns that have been identified in published medical studies.
The databases referenced for safety screening include:
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA or USFDA)
European Medicines Agency (EMA)
U.K. National Health Service (NHS)
National Medical Products Administration (NMPA)
As a result of our safety screening, here is a list of ingredients excluded from FLORAE products.
Aloe vera: According to an animal study, non-decolorized aloe vera may cause cancers of the large intestine in male and female rats and also may cause hyperplasia of the large intestine, small intestine, stomach and lymph nodes in male and female rats (Boudreau et al., 2013).
Benzyl alcohol: Low dose (10 – 70 mM) of benzyl alcohol may stimulate the ATPase activity but high dose (> 80 mM) of it may inhibit ATPase activity. Such an effect might be associated with the toxic effect of benzyl alcohol in premature animals, including respiratory failure, vasodilation, hypotension, convulsions, paralysis and even death. (Tanaka, 1984).
Comfrey: Comfrey may have serious hepatic toxicity and tumorigenesis. Diet containing 8% comfrey roots may induce liver tumours on rats (Mei et al., 2006).
Kowhai: The common name kowhai refers to a number of species of Sophora in New Zealand. It is thought all parts of Sophora plants contain toxic alkaloids, particularly the seeds. (Robin et al., 2012)
Lactic acid: According to EMA database, there was some evidence that neonates have difficulty in utilising the D(-) isomer of lactic acid. Therefore, EMA decided that neither this nor the recemate should be used in foods for infants less than 3 months old (Committee for veterinary medicinal products – lactic acid – summary report). According to Health Canada database, lactic acid is classified as poisonous, infectious and corrosive material, since it may possibly induce eye and/or skin irritation (Canadian Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) 1988 Classifications from Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CHEMINFO)).
Oxybenzone: Oxybenzone, commonly found in sun cream, has a series of toxicological effects. Specifically, a study on rats has revealed that it has prenatal toxicity (Inselman et al., 2013)
Papaya: According to a study on rat model, normal consumption of ripe papaya during pregnancy may not pose any significant danger, but the unripe or semi-ripe papaya could be unsafe in pregnancy, as it may contain high concentration of the latex that produces marked uterine contractions (Adebiyi et al., 2002).
Retinoid: Retinoid is commonly used for anti-ageing skincare products. Within a product containing retinoid, FDA document suggested that this group of compounds and their pharmacological similar drugs would increase tumorigenic risk when exposed to sunlight, according to the animal studies (Highlights of prescribing information, Differin Lotion, 1996). Scientific study has also revealed that retinoid is associated with hepatocellular damage and brain toxicity (Mawson, 2013).
Rosemary: It has been found with links to increased fetal death in animal studies. (Nusier et al., 2007)
Salicylic acid: Salicylic acid has been widely used for acne control. The long term toxicology of it has been studied by FDA and the results suggested that applying glycolic acid, including salicylic acid, can make people susceptible to the damaging effects of the sun (Beta Hydroxy Acids, FDA). Scientific study has also revealed that salicylic acid toxicity can occur with topical use of 6% salicylic acid over as little as 40% body surface area, and there had been death caused by it (Madan& Levitt, 2014).
Adebiyi A., Adaikan P.G. & Prasad R.N.V., 2002, Papaya (Carica papaya) consumption is unsafe in pregnancy: fact or fable? Scientific evaluation of a common belief in some parts of Asia using a rat model. British Journal of Nutrition, 88: 199 – 203.
Boudreau M.D., Beland F.A., Nichols J.A. &Pogribna M., 2013, Toxicology and carcinogenesis studies of a nondecolorized [corrected] whole leaf extract of Aloe barbadensis Miller (Aloe vera) in F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice (drinking water study), National Toxicology Program Technical Report Series, 577: 1 – 266.
CDC (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention). 1995. Asthma – United States, 1982-1993. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 43:952 – 955.
Inselman A.L., Nakamura N., Mcintyre B., Foster P.M.D., Harrouk W. & Hansen D.K., 2013. Preliminary results from prenatal toxicity study of oxybenzone in rats. Birth Defects Research Part A – Clinical and Molecular Teratology, 97(5): 313.
Jahnke GD, Iannucci AR, Scialli AR, Shelby MD. 2005. Center for the evaluation of risks to human reproduction – the first five years. Birth Defects Res B DevReprodToxicol. 2005 Feb; 74(1):1-8. Review.
Jane Houlihan, Timothy Kropp, Richard Wiles, Sean Gray, Chris Campbell, July 14, 2005, Body Burden, The Pollution in Newborns, Environmental Working Group.
Madan R.K. & Levitt J., 2014.A review of toxicity from topical salicylic acid preparations. J. Am. Acad. Dematol. 70: 788 – 792.
Mawson A., 2013. Meflloquine use, psychosis, and violence: a retinoid toxicity hypothesis. Med. Sci. Monit. 19: 579 – 583.
Mei N., Guo L., Zhang L., Shi L., Sun, Y.A., Fung C. et al., 2006, Analysis of gene expression changes in relation to toxicity and tumorigenesis in the livers of big blue transgenic rats fed comfrey (Symphytumofficinale), BMC Bioinformatics, 7(Suppl. 2): S16.
NAS (National Academy of Sciences). 1993. Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children. National Academy Press. Washington, DC.
Nusier MK, Bataineh HN, Daradkah HM: Adverse effects of rosemary (Rosmarinusofficinalis L.) on reproductive function in adult male rats. ExpBiol Med (Maywood) 232(6):809-813, 2007.
Robin J Slaughter, D Michael G Beasley, Bruce S Lambie, Gerard T Wilkins, Leo J Schep, Poisonous plants in New Zealand: a review of those most commonly enquired about to the National Poisons Centre, 14th December 2012, Volume 125 Number 1367
Tanaka R., 1984, Effect of benzyl alcohol on adenosine triphosphatase, p-nitrophenylphosphatase and acetylcholinesterase in rat erythrocyte membrane. The Journal of Toxicological Sciences, 9: 109 – 116.
Trasande L, Landrigan PJ. 2004. The National Children’s Study: a critical national investment. Environ Health Perspect. 2004 Oct; 112(14):A789-90.
Woestenenk J.W., Broos N., Stellato R.K., Arets H.G.M., van der Ent C.K. &Houwen R.H.J., 2016. Vitamin A intake and serum retinol levels in children and adolescents with cystic fibrosis. Clinical Nutrition, 35: 654 – 659.