Distribution and predictors of urinary concentrations of phthalate metabolites and phenols among pregnant women in the Healthy Start Study

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Abstract

Background

Phthalates and phenols are suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals that may adversely impact fetal outcomes following in utero exposure. Understanding predictors of exposure to phthalates and phenols during the prenatal period is important.

Methods

We measured urinary concentrations of 15 phthalate metabolites and 11 phenols in 446 pregnant women enrolled in the Healthy Start pre-birth cohort. Creatinine-adjusted geometric means (GM) for each urinary biomarker were compared across categories of potential sociodemographic and dietary predictors. To assess the independent relationship between each significant food group predictor and biomarker we used multivariable models, adjusted for sociodemographic predictors.

Results

The phthalate metabolites with the highest concentrations were monoethyl phthalate (GM: 41.1 μg/g creatinine) and monocarboxyisooctyl phthalate (GM: 20.5 μg/g creatinine). Benzophenone-3 (GM: 124.6 μg/g creatinine) and methyl paraben (GM: 119.9 μg/g creatinine) were the phenols with the highest concentrations. Concentrations of the metabolites of di-n-butyl phthalate and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate were significantly higher in younger, unmarried or unemployed mothers, those who were overweight or obese, those with lower educational attainment, or those of minority race/ethnicity (p-values < 0.05). Metabolites of di-n-butyl phthalate concentrations were 18% lower in those who consumed milk ≥ 7 times per week (95% CI: 30–4%). Benzophenone-3 and triclosan concentrations were significantly higher in older, married, or employed mothers, those with normal body mass index, higher educational attainment, higher household income, or who were non-Hispanic white (p-values < 0.05). Benzophenone-3 concentrations were 62% higher in those who consumed seafood ≥ 5 times per month (95% CI: 16–127%).

Conclusions

We observed differences in urinary concentrations of phthalates and phenol biomarkers by sociodemographic predictors in an ethnically diverse cohort of pregnant women. These results and future analyses from this prospective cohort will help inform targeted interventions to reduce exposure to these potential endocrine disrupting chemicals during pregnancy.

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