Phthalate Exposure In Pregnancy
Phthalates are once again in the news. A brand new study looked at the association between exposure to phthalates during pregnancy, and the development of emotional/behavioral problems in 2 year old toddlers.
Prior research had examined exposure of young children, finding infants were the most vulnerable due to developmental and reproductive toxicity from phthalates. This new research goes further, and looks at the gestational effects taking place in the first trimester. The fetus is especially vulnerable to toxins as they undergo rapid growth and brain development.
What Are Phthalates and Where Are They Found
Phthalates are synthetic chemicals that have been used to make plastics and resins. Phthalates are largely used in manufacturing of products to make them elastic. They make products flexible, transparent and durable.
Phthalates are in hundreds of products and because companies have included them in so many products, they can now be found in the soil where we grow our food, as a part of the water we drink, and in the air we breathe. We absorb phthalates through physical contact, breathing and swallowing. For a detailed examination of phthalates from an earlier article written by Dr. Sharol, check out Phthalate Exposure. This is a thorough article that will answer most of your questions about phthalates.
The researchers in this study measured Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) metabolite urine concentrations in the first trimmest of pregnancy, and then examined the offspring from these pregnancies at 24 months of age.
The results showed phthalate intrauterine exposure was associated with behavioral/development problems, but only in boys. When comparing boys with lower phthalate exposure to those with greater exposure, those with the higher exposure to DEHP had lower developmental scores in personal social abilities, more internalizing and externalizing problems, more physical complaints, and were more anxious or depressed. There were no differences found in association with the high and low DEHP scores in girls.
The researchers concluded the DEHP metabolite urine concentration differences from phthalate exposure measured in the first trimester of pregnancy may indeed play a role in the development of emotional and behavioral problems in boys that appeared in later life.