Prenatal exposure to phthalates (a ubiquitous group of plasticizers and odor-enhancing chemicals) were associated with motor function deficits in girls. The study conducted by scientists at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) is published in the journal Environment International.

Phthalates are materials widely used in consumer products (e.g. plastic toys to household building materials to shampoos); and according to literature they disrupt endocrine function, and possibly interfere with brain development in utero.

The CCCEH longitudinal study included 209 New York City women and their offspring. In the mothers’ urine samples obtained during the third trimester of pregnancy, seven phthalate metabolites were measured. Then, motor function was evaluated in the offspring at age 11.

The study revealed, after adjusting for potential confounders, an association between exposure to high levels of specific metabolites in the third trimester of gestation and decreased fine-motor functions among girls, not boys. the analysis pointed to three phthalates most linked to the deficits: mono-butyl phthalate (MBP), mono-benzyl phthalate (MBzP), and mono-isobutyl phthalate (MiBP) — none of which are metabolites of Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalates (DEHP), the most common category of phthalates.

There a growing awareness of the problem of plastics, which are destructive to animal life and ecosystems,” says senior author Pam Factor-Litvak, PhD, professor of epidemiology. “In this study, we have found new evidence that phthalates — chemicals commonly used in cosmetics and plastics — are harmful to children’s health. Girls with deficits in fine motor skills may have difficulty with their schoolwork, particularly related to problems writing and using electronic devices. They may also have problems with hand-eye coordination.”

 

Source: Sience Daily