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Scientists from the National Institutes of Health in the United States have found that exposure to phthalates (chemicals that give elasticity to synthetic materials) may increase the risk of premature birth. The results were published in The Lancet Planetary Health.

The study used data from women who participated in the National Children’s Environmental Health Program of the National Institutes of Health in the United States from 1998 to 2022.
Researchers evaluated levels of 20 phthalate metabolites in urine samples taken three times from participants at different stages of pregnancy.

They then sought to find out how specific concentrations of these metabolites in urine were associated with the birth weight and timing of birth of the participants’ children. They took into account other potential risk factors that affect preterm birth, such as the mother’s age at birth and ethnicity (births that occur before 37 weeks are considered preterm birth).

The most common phthalates detected are monoethyl phthalate and phthalic acid (used to make polyester fibres), which are used in making perfumes and soaps. Polyester fiber is used as a shock absorbing and insulating material in pillows, quilts and upholstery. It is also used in the manufacture of home accessories, appliances, ballpoint pens, beverage and food packaging.

It found that women exposed to a phthalate called di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) were approximately 45% more likely to give birth prematurely than women with the lowest levels of the substance’s metabolites in their blood.

Based on studies of exposure to phthalates, a team of researchers estimated that nearly 56,000 cases of premature birth in the United States in 2018 may have been linked to the chemicals.

Scientists noted that some limitations may have affected the study results. Urine samples cannot accurately reflect exposure levels to certain substances in the body. It is also possible that the women were exposed to other types of phthalates that the researchers did not attempt to detect.

Russian scientists before I learnedWhy is COVID-19 more severe in pregnant women?

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Source: Gazeta


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