A new study published in the ACS journal Environmental Science and Technology has revealed that phthalates (chemical compounds) are associated with a high rate of miscarriage mostly between 5-13 weeks of pregnancy.
The US has previously banned these substances in products made for young children. Previous studies have associated a cumulative impact on health, and some animal studies have revealed a higher rate of miscarriage in animal studies.
The research participants consisted of 132 women who had miscarriages and 172 healthy pregnant women in China. The findings revealed that pregnancy loss was associated with higher levels of urinary phthalate metabolites from diethyl phthalate (DEP), di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP) and di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP).
A study presented by the University of Sherbrooke in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada at the Endocrine Society’s 97th annual meeting in San Diego concluded that chemicals that are usually present in the home can lead to autistic behavior in infants.to
Chemical exposure during pregnancy to phthalates and brominated fire retardants act as endocrine disruptors, substances that can impair processes controlled by hormones. Previous studies have revealed that exposure to these chemicals can impact on the mental and motor development of infants. These chemicals are commonly found in many household plastic products and flame retardants.
The study consisted of dividing rat pups into three groups. The first group consisted of 28 pups whose pregnant mothers received low doses (by tube feeding) of a mixture of various phthalates and brominated flame retardants. The second group consisted of 20 unexposed pups and in the third group 18 pups were given valproic acid, a drug that induces autism in humans and autistic-like behavior in rats.
The research findings revealed that rat pups whose pregnant mothers received the chemical mixture showed behaviors similar to those seen in humans with autism spectrum disorders. They exhibited social interactions and increased hyperactive movements compared with unexposed pups. In general, males were more affected than females were and demonstrated less maternal bonding than their female counterparts did. The third group, which served as a rat model of autism, had similar abnormal behaviors, including general developmental delay.
“Our research points to potentially preventable causes of autism, which remains a diagnosis with enormous social costs and limited solutions,” said lead study author Stephanie Degroote, MSc, a PhD student at the University of Sherbrooke in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada.
“Our research finds that the developing brain is extremely sensitive to chemical additives found in our daily environment, and these chemical can contribute to the development of autism,” Degroote said. “The good news is that these exposures are avoidable, contrary to genetic risk factors, which are almost always not modifiable.”
Another study has revealed that imported wine contains compounds that are potentially dangerous to human health. Phthalates are a family of compounds made from alcohols and phthalic anhydride. They are oily, colorless, odorless liquids that do not evaporate readily. Often called plasticizers, phthalates are used in the manufacture of plastics, including polyvinyl chloride plastics (PVC).
Phthalates can prolong the lifespan or durability of plastics and increase the flexibility of some plastics. They can be found in hundreds of products such as toys, vinyl flooring, herbal pill coating, and plastic shower curtains. In addition, phthalates are also used as solvents. Phthalates are used in a variety of cosmetic products, such as nail polishes, perfumes, skin moisturizers and shampoos to enhance penetration and hold scent and/or color.
The research study analyzed a number of imported French wines spirits and found that 59% of the wines analysed contained significant quantities of one particular form of phthalate, dibutyl phthalate.
Only seventeen percent of the tested alcoholic beverages did not contain any detectable quantity of at least one of the phthalates. In addition eleven percent of the tested substances were not in compliance with European Union limits.
A major source of contamination appeared to be spirit containers coated in epoxy resin.
Di Mu, Fumei Gao, Zhanlan Fan, Huan Shen, Hui Peng, Jianying Hu. Levels of Phthalate Metabolites in Urine of Pregnant Women and Risk of Clinical Pregnancy Loss. Environmental Science & Technology, 2015; 49 (17): 10651 DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b02617