London, Sept 2 : Pregnant women who use perfumes or scented creams may increase the risk of unborn boys developing infertility in later life, a new research by Edinburgh University scientists suggests.
The research team reckons that exposure to chemicals found in cosmetics during the pregnancy period of eight and 12 weeks of may affect later sperm production.
But they stressed there was not yet conclusive proof this was the case.
The research team was led by Professor Richard Sharpe of the Medical Research Council's Human Reproductive Sciences Unit, based in Edinburgh.
During tests on rats, they blocked the action of androgens, which include male sex hormones such as testosterone.
The experiments confirmed that if the hormones are blocked, the animals suffered fertility problems.
Some of the chemicals which can block the hormones are widely used in the production of items such as cosmetics, household fabrics and plastics.
Prof Sharpe said the chemicals may also increase the risk of baby boys developing other reproductive conditions in later life, including testicular cancer.
He added that women planning on becoming pregnant should avoid putting any cosmetic products on their skin which could then be absorbed into their bodies.
"There are lots of compounds in perfumes that we know in higher concentrations have the potential to have biological effects, so it is just being ultra safe to say that by avoiding using them your baby isn't at risk," BBC quoted Prof Richard Sharpe, as saying.
"If you are planning to become pregnant you should change your lifestyle. Those lifestyle things don't necessarily mean that you are going to cause terrible harm to your baby, but by avoiding them you are going to have a positive effect.
"We would recommend you avoid exposure to chemicals that are present in cosmetics, anything that you put on your body that might then get through your body into your developing baby.
"It is not because we have evidence that these chemicals categorically cause harm to babies, it is only based on experimental studies on animals that suggest it is a possibility," he added.
However, Prof Sharpe said women were exposed to many of the chemicals he was concerned about through many other routes, as they are widespread in the air and in the fabrics of their homes.