Exposure to certain phthalates in the womb could be linked to low birth weight, according to researchers in China.
The scientists found that infants of low birth weight had higher levels of the phthalate di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) in cord blood and higher levels of the DBP metabolite monobutyl phthalate (MBP) in meconium samples.
Meconium is the first stools passed by an infant containing material ingested during time in the womb. According to the scientists, it is often used to investigate in utero exposure to certain substances.
The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, also said that higher levels of di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) were associated with a shorter birth length. Similarly, levels of the metabolite MEHP were negatively associated with birth length.
The scientists, working at the Fudan University in Shanghai China, said: “This indicates that newborns, who are immature both developmentally and physiologically, may be at greatest risk for LBW after in utero exposure to DBP and DEHP.”
Members of the phthalate family of chemicals are found in wide variety of consumer products. Used as plasticizers they are often added to medical devices, plastic packaging, children’s toys and some personal care products.
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