Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Notebook

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Notebook

Article excerpt

Pregnancy And Permanents

Every day, obstetricians warn their patients not to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or use recreational drugs while pregnant - and to ask before taking any new medicine.

But what about the grayer area of hair treatments? To color or not? To curl, to straighten, to highlight? It's a tough call. Studies on the chemicals found in some hair care products - and their effects on the unborn - are just beginning. A Pittsburgh doctor has recently embarked on such a study.

Though chemicals from hair products are absorbed through the scalp in minute quantities, the Washington-based Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association advises pregnant women to consult their doctors for guidance "on any aspect of lifestyle during pregnancy."

Dr. Karen Ann Filkins, who is the director of reproductive genetics at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh and a University of Pittsburgh associate professor of genetics, has begun a study of hair treatments during pregnancy.

So far, Filkins has collected data on about 100 women who have become pregnant after exposure to chemicals in hair treatments and hopes to study thousands.

This lack of human data - and the absence of an official stand on the issue by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists - leaves many doctors coming down on the side of caution. Avoid the use of permanents, hair colors and relaxers during pregnancy and especially during the first trimester, Filkins advises.

But Filkins also advises women not to panic if they use hair treatments and then learn they are pregnant.

Moderation is next best to abstinence, Filkins says. Women can pick treatments that involve minimal contact of chemicals with the scalp, such as highlighting. Health & Fitness News Service

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