Exposure to phthalates before pregnancy could increase preterm birth risk

Exposure to the class of chemicals known as phthalates, which are found in a wide array of products from perfume to kids’ toys, was associated with preterm birth in new research led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

While previous research has shown links between exposure to some phthalates during pregnancy and preterm birth, the new study indicates that exposure to the chemicals before conception may also lead to an increased risk.

The study, led by Carmen Messerlian, assistant professor of environmental reproductive, perinatal and pediatric epidemiology, examined data on 420 singleton births among subfertile couples who sought treatment at a fertility clinic between 2005 and 2018. The research team found that higher maternal concentrations of several phthalate metabolites in urine samples before conception was associated with a higher risk for preterm birth, according to an April 7, 2020 Medpage Today article.

Messerlian said in an April 9 New York Times article that couples planning a pregnancy should be aware of the findings and try to reduce exposure to phthalates, especially those found in plastics, before conceiving.

Read the Medpage Today article: Pre-Pregnancy Phthalates Exposure: Still a Threat to Offspring?

Read the New York Times article: Exposure to Plastic Chemicals Before Conception Tied to Premature Births