A new study published on August 25, 2015 in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives investigated the link between prenatal phthalate exposure and childhood fat mass. Researchers Jessie P. Buckley and colleagues, based at the University of North Carolina, U.S., the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, U.S., measured phthalate metabolite concentrations in the urine of 404 women in their third trimester of pregnancy. The researcher considered a total of 9 phthalate metabolites indicating exposure to diethyl phthalate (DEP, CAS 84-66-2), dibutyl phthalate (DnBP, CAS 84-74-2), diisobutyl phthalate (DiBP, CAS 84-69-5), benzylbutyl phthalate (BzBP, CAS 85-68-7), diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP, CAS 117-81-7) and several high molecular weight phthalates. For 180 children Buckley and colleagues evaluated percent fat mass in follow-up visits between ages four and nine. The researchers did not find associations between maternal urinary phthalate concentrations and percent body fat. However, fat mass was approximately 3% lower among children of mothers with the highest urinary DEHP metabolite concentrations compared to children of mothers with the lowest urinary DEHP metabolite concentrations. This indicates that there may be a link between prenatal DEHP exposure and lower fat mass in childhood.

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Buckley, J. P. et al. (2015). “Prenatal phthalate exposures and childhood fat mass in a New York City cohort.Environmental Health Perspectives (advance publication August 25, 2015).