Phthalate exposure during pregnancy increases odds of preterm delivery

December 2, 2013

Pregnant women exposed to environmental phthalates are at an elevated risk of preterm delivery, according to a recent study in JAMA Pediatrics.

Pregnant women exposed to environmental phthalates are at an elevated risk of preterm delivery, according to a recent study in JAMA Pediatrics.

Kelly K. Ferguson, MPH, of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Michigan School of Public Health, and colleagues reviewed data from 130 women who had been pregnancy and had preterm babies from 2006-2008 and compared their exposure to phthalate metabolites with 352 randomly chosen case controls. Preterm was defined as fewer than 37 weeks of gestation.

The researchers analyzed study participants urine samples 3 times during pregnancy to determine the levels of phthalate metabolites. Phthalates are chemicals used in plastics and vinyl and are found in many consumer products, such as perfume, hair spray, soap, shampoos, nail polish, and skin moisturizers, as well as food packaging.

The phthalate metabolites “were associated with significantly increased odds of preterm birth. When spontaneous preterm births were examined alone, MEHP, mono-(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate, MECPP, ∑ DEHP, MBP, and mono-(3-carboxypropyl) phthalate metabolite levels were all associated with significantly elevated odds of prematurity,” the researchers wrote.

They concluded that environmental exposure to phthalates during pregnancy should be decreased to reduce the chance of preterm birth.