Spare a thought for the mum-to-be: no booze; no fags; no pâté; no fancy cheese; no eggs; and, probably, a wild craving for coal. Now pregnant woman have been told they have to make do without beauty products.
Growing concerns over the exposure of pregnant women to chemicals that may lead to birth defects have prompted calls for a new EU-wide cosmetics labelling system which would mark out some products as off-limits to mothers-to-be.
The move follows the publication of a study which found that women exposed to high levels of hairspray during pregnancy were twice as likely to have babies born with hypospadias, a condition in which the urinary tract grows on the underside of the penis. The Imperial College London study suggested that the birth defects were linked to chemicals in hairspray shown to disrupt the hormonal systems in the body and affect reproductive development.
Fears over the effects of chemicals such as parabens, commonly used in cosmetics as a preservative, and phthalates, used in hairspray, have led to calls for closer monitoring of cosmetics. High levels of phthalates, also used to soften plastics such as PVC, have been found to affect hormone levels, while parabens have been the subject of concern since 2004, when a study claimed to have detected parabens from deodorants in cancerous breast tissue.
The French health minister Roselyne Bachelot sparked debate last week by announcing that the French health authorities were considering a labelling system for cosmetics that would indicate whether or not products were safe for pregnant women. But the UK government said that the EU should address the issue as a whole, adding it to a range of changes currently being made to the European Cosmetics Directive.