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Am J Epidemiol. 1999 Apr 15;149(8):712-6.

Chemical hair treatments and adverse pregnancy outcome among Black women in central North Carolina.

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Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA.


Several studies suggest that toxic chemicals in hair products may be absorbed through the scalp in sufficient amounts to increase the risks of adverse health effects in women or their infants. This case-control study of 525 Black women from three counties in North Carolina who had delivered a singleton, liveborn infant examined whether exposure to chemicals used in hair straightening and curling increased the odds that the infant was preterm or low birth weight. Cases consisted of 188 preterm and 156 low birth weight births (for 123 women, their infant was both low birth weight and preterm). Controls were 304 women who delivered term and normal birth weight infants. Women who used a chemical hair straightener at any time during pregnancy or within 3 months prior to conception had an adjusted odds ratios (OR) of 0.7 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.4-1.1) for preterm birth and 0.6 (95% CI 0.4-1.1) for low birth weight. Exposure to chemical curl products was also not associated with preterm delivery (adjusted OR = 0.9, 95% CI 0.5-1.8) or low birth weight (adjusted OR = 1.0, 95% CI 0.5-1.9). Despite this failure to find an association, continued search for risk factors to which Black women are uniquely exposed is warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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