In an article published on July 1, 2015 by the news provider Environmental Health News, journalist Brian Bienkowski reports on a new study showing that exposure to phthalates and phenols may alter gene expression in the placenta of pregnant women. The peer-reviewed study was published on June 19, 2015 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP). Researchers Jessica LaRocca and colleagues from Harvard University, U.S. tested the urine of 179 pregnant women in their first trimester for eight phenols and eleven phthalate metabolites. Most of the tested phenols and the phthalate parent compounds of the tested phthalate metabolites, including e.g. diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP, CAS 117-81-7), bisphenol A (BPA, CAS 80-05-7) and triclosan (CAS 3380-34-5), are authorized for use in food contact materials (FCMs). Also, the researchers tested expression of certain miRNAs (micro ribonucleic acid) that regulate gene expression in the placenta. LaRocca and colleagues found that phthalate and phenol exposure was associated with altering the expression levels of some of the analyzed miRNAs. Regulation of miRNA is very important for placental and fetal growth as miRNA has the ability to target important cellular pathways, the researchers state. These results suggest that prenatal exposure to phthalates and phenols may impede the fetuses’s proper development and growth, Bienkowski writes. According to the industry group American Chemistry Council (ACC), the study had “numerous shortcomings” and “did not draw any conclusions about negative health effects associated with potential exposures”.

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Brian Bienkowski (July 1, 2015). “Chemicals may alter placenta genes, threaten fetuses.Environmental Health News


LaRocca, J. et al. (2015). “First-trimester urine concentrations of phthalate metabolites and phenols and placenta miRNA expression in a cohort of U.S. women.Environmental Health Perspectives DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1408409 (advance publication).