In an article published on February 19, 2015 by the CBS News, journalist Steven Reinberg reports on a new study exploring the link between prenatal phthalate exposure and genital development. A team of researchers led by Shanna Swan, Professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, U.S. measured metabolites of the common food contact substance diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP, CAS 117-81-7) and seven other phthalates in first trimester urine samples of mothers from four U.S. cities. Women who later gave birth to a single baby, whose anogenital distance (AGD) was measured at or shortly after birth, were included in the current analysis (N = 753). AGD is defined as the distance between the anus and the genitals. Shorter AGD in males has been previously linked to infertility and low sperm count. The results of the study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Human Reproduction, show that male newborns exposed to DEHP may be born with a significantly shorter AGD compared to unexposed newborns. No phthalate metabolites were, however, associated with AGD in girls. The primary source of exposure to DEHP is food. Therefore, eliminating DEHP from food by the producers is necessary, Swan stresses.

In response to the study, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) stated that the data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over the last decade indicate that aggregate exposure to phthalates from all sources combined is lower than the safe levels established by regulatory agencies.

Read more

Steven Reinberg (February 19, 2015).  “Chemical in plastics may affect boys’ future fertility.CBS News

Jenny Eagle (February 24, 2015). “Tests show plastic packaging can can affect baby boy’s genitals before birth.” Food Production Daily


Swan, S.H. et al. (2015). “First trimester phthalate exposure and anogenital distance in newborns.Human Reproduction (published online February 18, 2015).