In a new study published in the January 2015 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research, researchers investigate pubertal development effects from prenatal exposure to phthalates. A cohort of pregnant women (N=437 at baseline, ages 25–35 years) was established in Taiwan during December 2000 and November 2001. The cohort was then regularly followed up every two and half years until August 2012. Maternal exposure to phthalates was assessed by measuring their metabolites in urine collected from each participant during the third trimester of pregnancy in 2001 and 2002. A total of 133 children, with known prenatal phthalate exposure, were followed up to examine their pubertal development by physical examinations at the age of eight and eleven years. The authors focused on the following aspects of pubertal development: bone age for both genders, uterus size and ovarian volume for girls and testicle size for boys. The results suggest that exposure to di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP, CAS 117-81-7) and benzylbutyl phthalate (BBP, CAS 85-68-7) may delay the pubertal development for females (uterus size, bone age). However, no association was found between prenatal phthalate exposure and ovarian volume for girls and testicle size in boys. Further research using a larger population sample and with longer follow-up times is needed, the authors conclude.

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Su, P-H. et al. (2015). “Prenatal exposure to phthalate ester and pubertal development in a birth cohort in central Taiwan: A 12-year follow-up study.Environmental Research 136, 324–330.