Phthalate Exposure in Pregnancy Tied to Preterm Delivery Risk


THURSDAY, July 21, 2022 — Phthalate exposure during pregnancy may be a preventable risk factor for preterm delivery, according to a study published online July 11 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Barrett M. Welch, Ph.D., from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues used pooled data from 16 preconception and pregnancy studies (1983 to 2018; 6,045 participants) to examine the association between urinary biomarkers of phthalates in pregnancy and preterm birth among U.S. individuals.

The researchers found that most phthalate metabolites were detected in >96 percent of participants. For an interquartile range increase in urinary concentrations of mono-N-butyl phthalate, there were higher odds of preterm birth, ranging from 12 to 16 percent. Similar associations were seen for mono-isobutyl phthalate, mono(2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl) phthalate, and mono(3-carboxypropyl) phthalate. Based on approximately 90 preterm births per 1,000 live births in this study population, hypothetical interventions to reduce the mixture of phthalate metabolite levels by 10, 30, and 50 percent were estimated to prevent 1.8, 5.9, and 11.1 preterm births, respectively.

“It is difficult for people to completely eliminate exposure to these chemicals in everyday life, but our results show that even small reductions within a large population could have positive impacts on both mothers and their children,” Welch said in a statement.

One author disclosed serving as an expert witness for plaintiffs in litigation related to perfluoroalkyl substances-contaminated drinking water.

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