Parents might be interested to learn that young girls’ exposure to chemicals in common beauty products might delay or speed up the onset of puberty. The link was made in a study published online in Environmental Health Perspectives and reported by HealthDay News.

The chemicals in question are classed as phenols, phthalates and phytoestrogens. All are commonly found in beauty products such as nail polish, cosmetics, perfumes, lotions and shampoos. They’re also used in plastics and in the edible shell encasings of time-released drugs and supplements.

For the study, researchers took urine samples from 1,151 girls, ages 6 to 8, living in New York City, Cincinnati and northern California.

Findings showed an association between high levels of the three chemicals and early breast development. And scientists also linked specific types of the three chemicals—those found in building material and plastic tubing—with delayed puberty.

In addition, researchers found a connection between phthalates used in lotions and shampoos with early development of breasts and pubic hair.

But early or delayed onset of puberty was not the only issue of concern to researchers.

“We believe that there are certain periods of vulnerability in the development of the mammary gland, and exposure to these chemicals may influence breast cancer risk in adulthood,” said Mary Wolff, PhD, a professor of preventive medicine and oncological sciences at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Wolff also suggested that diet might affect girls’ breast cancer risk as adults, but she felt more research is required to confirm the connection.

Wolff pointed out previous studies that linked early puberty in girls to detrimental social and medical consequences such as a higher risk of developing cancer and diabetes as adults.

For more about chemicals in baby products that can create problems for kids, click here.