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Antibacterial hand soap could harm fetuses

Many Americans rely on antibacterial hand soaps and sanitizing gels to ward off germs, but a new study has determined that ingredients in some antibacterial products may be harmful to fetuses.

Researchers have found that pregnant women who are exposed to triclosan and triclocarban, ingredients commonly found in germ-killing products, may face health risks. The report, released by the American Chemical Society (ACS), found a link between antimicrobial products and "shorter newborn lengths," according to Science Daily.

It's not just antibacterial soap products, either — the researchers reported that the compounds in question can be found in more than 2,000 household items, including toothpaste and even toys.

"If you cut off the source of exposure, eventually triclosan and triclocarban would quickly be diluted out, but the truth is that we have universal use of these chemicals, and therefore also universal exposure," Dr. Rolf Halden, lead investigator of the study, told Science Daily.

Some companies, though, are already taking steps to reduce consumers' triclosan exposure. Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble announced plans to remove triclosan from at least some of their products.