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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Brown: Prenatal Phthalate Exposure and Infant Size at Birth and Gestational Duration

Phthalic acid diesters, or phthalates, are found in a wide variety of consumer products including lotions, perfumes, food processing equipment, adhesives, and rainwear. As such, phthalate exposure is widespread, including among pregnant women. Prenatal phthalate exposure has been reported to have an effect on birth size in the past, but the results have been inconsistent across studies.

Shoaff, Jessica
[Photo: Ms. Jessica Shoaff]

The purpose of this study, led by Ms. Jessica Shoaff, current PhD Candidate in the department of epidemiology, was to quantify the relationship between maternal urinary phthalate concentrations and infant birth weight, length, head circumference, and gestational duration.

Among a cohort of 368 women in Cincinnati, Ohio, the researchers measured exposure to nine phthalate metabolites representing six different parent phthalate diesters at 16 and 26 weeks gestation. In unadjusted models, monoethyl phthalate (MEP) was negatively associated with birth weight z-scores, while mono-3-carboxypropyl phthalate (MCPP) was positively associated with gestational duration. However, after adjusting for covariates, including various socio-demographic, nutritional, environmental, and perinatal factors, phthalate metabolite concentrations were no longer associated with birth size or gestational duration.

The results of this study suggest that maternal urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations are not associated with birth size and gestational duration. However, additional research is needed in larger studies assessing phthalate exposure earlier in pregnancy to confirm these findings and determine if exposures are associated with infant health.

This study was published in Environmental Research, Volume 150.

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