Fetal Exposure to Phthalates Increases Asthma Risk

  • New research indicates that fetuses exposed to high levels of phthalates in utero may also have a higher risk for childhood asthma.  The study, conducted by Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health, followed 300 pregnant women and their children until age 11.  Of those children exposed to higher levels of phthalates before birth they had an up to 78% increased risk of developing asthma (1).

    Phthalates are made from phthalic acid and are used as plasticizers to increase the durability, flexibility and transparency of plastics.  This study looked at two of these chemicals; butylbenzyl phthalate (BBzP) and di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP).  These chemicals can be found in various plastics, make-up, hygiene products, adhesives, detergents and many other things.  You can find amore complete list on the CDC's website.

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    If you or your spouse have a family history of asthma, allergies or eczema your future children are already at a higher risk for developing asthma.   While it is not known exactly how phthalates work to increase the risk of asthma in a child exposed as a fetus, it is important for mothers to know about the risk and mitigate it as much as possible.  This means a lot of label reading for moms-to-be and discussing with their obstetrician how reduce their exposure to these chemicals.

    If I had known of this risk when I was pregnant with my twins, both of whom have asthma, I would have removed phthalates from our environment as completely as possible.  A little prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Published On: October 20, 2014