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Study Leaves Out Important Risk Factors When Claiming Relationship Between Phthalate DEHP and Preterm Birth


Contact: Liz Snyder Bowman, 202-249-6509  
Email: Liz_Bowman@americanchemistry.com

WASHINGTON (November 18, 2013)The American Chemistry Council released the following statement in response to a new study assessing the relationship between phthalate DEHP exposures during pregnancy and preterm birth by Ferguson, et al that was published in JAMA Pediatrics.

“This limited study of a small demographic area should not be used to claim any cause-and-effect relationship between levels of phthalate DEHP exposures and the chance of pre-term birth.

“In more than 50 years of use, a great quantity of research has been conducted on phthalates by universities, government agencies, phthalate manufacturers and independent laboratories. This body of research makes phthalates one of the most widely-studied family of chemicals in use today. This research shows that DEHP is known to break down into its MEHP metabolite within minutes after it enters the body. And, information collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the last 10 years indicates that, despite the fact that phthalates are used in many products, exposure from all sources combined is extremely low—much lower than the levels established as safe by scientists at regulatory agencies.

“On review of this article, the study leaves out certain very important and widely-accepted preterm risk factors, including: poor nutrition, infections, gestational diabetes, chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, multiple miscarriages or terminated pregnancies and stress.1 In addition, the study only used participants from one city, in one hospital and did not compare their findings to other pregnant women nationwide, using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data.

“A much more detailed review of this study would need to be conducted before any wide-spread conclusions can be drawn about any direct connection between phthalates in the environment and preterm delivery.”

1 http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/MaternalInfantHealth/PDF/PretermBirth-Infographic.pdf and http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pretermbirth.htm also: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/premature-birth/DS00137/DSECTION=risk-factors

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