“Prenatal Phthalate Exposure and Childhood Growth and Blood Pressure”


Phthalates are a class of synthetic compounds widely used in the manufacture of many industrial and consumer products, such as PVC products including building materials, cables and wires, clothing, and food and beverage containers and non-PVC products including adhesives and personal-care article. The main considered routes of human exposure to phthalates are food consumption—especially of packaged food and beverages, and the use of personal-care products. Phthalates are quickly metabolized in the human body and excreted in urine. Studies in many countries have reported detectable levels of phthalate metabolites in urine of almost all individuals tested (> 90{3effe4377b6f02be2524d084f7d03914ac32a2b62c0a056ca3444e58c1f10d0b}), including pregnant women. There is limited evidence in humans on the effects of early life phthalate exposure on obesity and cardio- vascular disease risks, reported by experimental studies.

Thus, we evaluated the associations between prenatal exposure to several phthalates and growth outcomes and blood pressure in the first 7 years of life using data from a prospective birth cohort study in Spain. We analysed 391 mother–child pairs of Sabadell in 2004–2006 with available phthalate determinations measured in two spot-urine samples collected in the first and third pregnancy trimesters.

The urinary phthalate metabolites in our pregnant women are similar to those measured in pregnant women in other Spanish regions and in general, lower compared with those measured in other European pregnancy cohorts with samples collected in 2000–2006.

Our study provides evidence that prenatal exposure to phthalates may influence postnatal growth and lower blood pressure differently in boys and girls up to 7 years of age. Phthalates are associated with lower growth in boys and not in girls, and lower blood pressure in girls but not in boys. Although further research is needed to clarify the underlying mechanisms, evidence suggests that developmental exposure to phthalates may impair growth in a sex-specific manner.

Our findings are different from those previously shown in others studies highlighting the necessity for evaluating these associations in more studies.

Reference: Valvi D, Casas M, Romaguera D, Monfort N, Ventura R, Martinez D, Sunyer J, Vrijheid M. Prenatal Phthalate Exposure and Childhood Growth and Blood Pressure: Evidence from the Spanish INMA-Sabadell Birth Cohort Study. Environ Health Perspect. 2015 Oct;123(10):1022-9