A new study has revealed that parents’ who are exposed to chemicals found in detergents, shampoos and conditioners may be associated with birth defects in children.

The study was conducted on both mice and rats and found that the chemicals, known as quaternary ammonium compounds or “quats”, can lead to birth defects of the brain, spine or spinal cord.

Terry Hrubec, Associate Professor at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) in Virginia, US said, “These chemicals are regularly used in the home, hospitals, public spaces and swimming pools.”

Hrubec added,“Birth defects were seen when both males and females were exposed, as well as when only one parent was exposed.”

For the study, the team investigated the effect of two commonly used quats – alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride and didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride.

These are often listed on ingredient lists as ADBAC and DDAC respectively, and are valued for their antimicrobial and antistatic properties, as well as their ability to lower surface tension.

These are used as common ingredients in cleaners and disinfectants, hand wipes, food preservatives, swimming pool treatments, laundry products, shampoos, conditioners, eye drops and other personal care products.