A new study published online on December 10, 2014 in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PLoS ONE investigates associations between prenatal phthalate exposures on child intelligence quotient (IQ) in school-age children in the U.S.. Factor-Litvak and colleagues measured urinary metabolites of di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP, CAS 84-69-5), diethyl phthalate (DEP, CAS 84-66-2), di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP, CAS 84-74-2), butylbenzyl phthalate (BBzP, CAS 85-68-7) and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP, CAS 117-81-7) in 328 pregnant women from inner-city New York. At the child age of seven, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children was administered to evaluate the overall IQ. The researchers report that child full-scale IQ was inversely associated with prenatal urinary metabolite concentrations of DnBP and DiBP. Children of mothers with the highest versus lowest quartile DnBP and DiBP metabolite concentrations, scored 6.7 and 7.6 points lower, respectively. Furthermore, significant inverse associations were reported between maternal prenatal metabolite concentrations of single phthalates and child processing speed, perceptual reasoning, working memory and child verbal comprehension. Human phthalate exposure is ubiquitous and the measured concentrations are within the range previously reported for general populations, thus our results are of public health significance, the authors conclude. Finally, they stress that their findings are important to inform policy makers of the potential negative health effects of exposure to phthalates. All investigated phthalates are known to be used in food contact materials.

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Maggie Fox (December 10, 2014). “Chemical phthalates in food packaging linked with lower IQ in kids.NBC News


Factor-Litvak, P. (2014). “Persistent associations between maternal prenatal exposure to phthalates on child IQ at age 7 years.PLoS ONE (published online December 10, 2014)