Study looks at preterm births, phthalate levels

By Jeremy Carroll
Assistant Managing Editor

Published: November 21, 2013 1:17 pm ET
Updated: November 21, 2013 1:21 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Sustainability
Companies & Associations American Chemistry Council

Mothers who give birth preterm have higher levels of phthalates than those who give birth at full-term, according to an association study conducted by University of Michigan researchers.

The study looked at 130 preterm births and 352 randomly assigned control participants at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, but the American Chemistry Council said a much more detailed study is needed before any conclusions could be drawn.

According to the study, women with the highest levels of exposure of certain phthalates during pregnancy had two-to-five times the odds of preterm birth, compared to women with the lowest exposure. The study took urine samples of the women at various times during their pregnancy.

The results of the study were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, a monthly peer-reviewed journal.

Researchers, as well as ACC, warned that the results still need to be confirmed with more study.

“This is by no means the cause of premature birth, but it is a possible contributor — which is important because it is potentially modifiable,” said Dr. Thomas McElrath in a statement. McElrath was a co-investigator on the study.

“This finding may be dramatic but women should not be alarmed,” McElrath said. “This is only the first step in a long research process that will be needed to clarify and confirm these results. It is simply too early to suggest making changes in prenatal care based on this study.”

In a statement about the results, ACC said the study was limited to a small demographic area and it “should not be used to claim any cause-and-effect relationship between levels of phthalate DEHP exposures and the chance of preterm birth.”

ACC called phthalates one of the most widely studied family of chemicals in use today and exposure from all sources combined is extremely low.

“On review of this article, the study leaves out certain very important and widely-accepted preterm risk factors, including: poor nutrition, infections, gestational diabetes, chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, multiple miscarriages or terminated pregnancies and stress,” ACC said in its statement. “A much more detailed review of this study would need to be conducted before any wide-spread conclusions can be drawn about any direct connection between phthalates in the environment and preterm delivery.”

Researchers said before any sort of interventions could be taken for pregnant women, more must be known about how phthalates interact with pregnancy.

“Preterm birth is a major public health challenge,” said John Meeker, associate professor of environmental health sciences and associate dean for research at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and the principal investigator of the study. “Rates are significantly higher than they were 20 years ago and we don’t know why. Other interventions have had limited effectiveness, and this helps shed light on a potential for environmental influences.”

Phthalates are used in a number of products to make plastics more flexible. They can also be used as solvents in some personal care products.


Comments

Study looks at preterm births, phthalate levels

By Jeremy Carroll
Assistant Managing Editor

Published: November 21, 2013 1:17 pm ET
Updated: November 21, 2013 1:21 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Pactiv selling building products unit to Ireland's Kingspan

August 19, 2014 3:54 pm ET

Irish building material manufacturer Kingspan Group plc is acquiring the insulation business of Lake Forest, Ill.-based Pactiv Building Products for...    More

Image

Flexible film waste-to-oil pilot project continuing in California

August 19, 2014 3:19 pm ET

A recent decision to discontinue operations at a plastics waste-to-oil site in Portland, Ore., is not impacting a pilot program aimed at hard-to-...    More

Image

Cardia Bioplastics opening bag manufacturing plant in Brazil

August 19, 2014 9:31 am ET

Australia's Cardia Bioplastics Ltd. says the high demand for environmentally friendly bags has prompted it to set up a film and bag plant in São...    More

Image

BMW closes the carbon fiber loop

August 18, 2014 10:43 am ET

BMW's extensive use of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic in its i-series vehicles has prompted the development of ways to recycle unused material.    More

Image

Sustainability report shows impact of lightweighting at Dr Pepper

August 15, 2014 12:50 pm ET

There's no period in Dr Pepper and now there's less and less resin in the PET bottles that the beverage maker produces.    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook – North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Pipe, Profile & Tubing Extrusion in North America 2014

U.S. demand for extruded plastics is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2014, with PVC remaining the largest segment.

Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains through 2018, continuing to take market share from competing materials in a range of markets.

Our latest market report provides in-depth analysis of current trends and their financial impact on the pipe, profile and tubing extrusion industry in North America.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events