A study of pregnant woman whose urine indicated the presence of the phthalate plasticizer di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate suggests that women with the highest concentrations gave birth five days earlier than those in the study who had lower DEHP levels.
The study team, led by Dr. Robin Whyatt of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health at Columbia University in New York, did not find any health risks to the babies or their mothers from the exposure and did not show that DEHP led to premature births.
What is significant is that no adverse health effects were reported, said Steve Risotto, senior director of the Phthalates Esters Panel of the American Chemistry Council in Arlington, Va. He also noted that two previous studies have shown that a longer gestational period occurs as a result of phthalate exposure.
Whyatt acknowledged the need for more research to determine if there are any potential health effects or risks.
Given the inconsistencies with previous findings for other study populations, [our] results should be interpreted with caution, and additional research is warranted, Whyatt said. The study was published online Nov. 30 in the periodical Pediatrics.
The study focused exclusively on 311 pregnant African-American or Dominican women from New York. Urine samples were collected during the third trimester of their pregnancies.
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