Phthalates in consumer products linked to premature births: a detailed study

Exposure to toxins during pregnancy would increase the risk of preterm birth and lower birth weight.

For decades, it has been established that chemicals known as phthalates interfere with the functioning of certain hormones or signaling compounds circulating in the blood, orchestrating many of the body’s processes.

The exposure to these toxins, believed to occur as consumer products break down and are ingested, has been linked to obesity, cancer, fertility issues, and numerous other health problems.

A recent study suggests that regular contact with the chemicals found in plastic food packaging and many cosmetic products could be linked to approximately 56,600 premature births in 2018 alone.

The study

Conducted by researchers from the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, this new analysis on exposure to phthalates in over 5,000 mothers specifically linked it to an increased risk of lower birth weight.

This risk factor is known to moderately increase the risk of infant mortality, affect school performance, and potentially contribute to heart disease and diabetes. According to their findings, about 10% of all premature births in 2018 could be linked to these chemicals.

For the research, the team analyzed data from the Environmental Influences on Childhood Health Outcomes (ECHO) program, a National Institutes of Health initiative aimed at better understanding the effects of a wide range of environmental, social, and economic factors on children’s health.

The data, which ranged from access to food and the impact of racism and income inequality to exposure to toxins, allowed researchers to account for and separate demographic factors, in addition to phthalates, that could influence preterm birth.

To assess prenatal exposure to phthalates, researchers measured levels of 20 different metabolites (the components into which the chemicals break down within the body) in urine samples collected at three points during pregnancy.

The team then looked for associations between these metabolite levels and premature births. Subsequently, it estimated the monetary costs resulting from intensive care unit admissions and other related medical expenses, and the loss of productivity over a lifetime due to lower IQ points.

In addition to examining overall exposure to toxins, the authors also sought distinctions between specific phthalates. They particularly compared di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), a chemical long used to make plastic more flexible, with several newer DEHP substitutes.

According to the results, grouping mothers based on the amount of DEHP metabolites in their urine, the 10% with the highest levels had a 50% increased risk of giving birth before the 37th week of pregnancy compared to the 10% with the lowest levels.

Meanwhile, the risk of preterm birth was doubled for women exposed to the highest amounts of three common DEHP alternatives, namely di-isodecyl phthalate (DIDP), di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP), and diisononyl phthalate (DiNP), compared to those who had little or no exposure.

Further research is needed, as the authors intend to expand their analysis and primarily examine the health effects of preventing exposure to phthalates.

Source: The Lancet

The article draws upon studies published and recommendations from international institutions and/or experts. We do not make claims in the medical-scientific field and report the facts as they are. Sources are indicated at the end of each article.
Condividi su Whatsapp Condividi su Linkedin