Lindsay McCormick is a Research Analyst. Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist.
A recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives is the first to demonstrate a link between childhood asthma and prenatal exposure to certain phthalates. Phthalates are a group of chemical plasticizers used in hundreds of everyday products, including home construction materials, toys, food packaging, medical devices, and synthetic fragrances found in personal care products, cleaning products, cosmetics, and air fresheners. For the most part, it is impossible for the average consumer to know what products are made with phthalates; however, if you see the word “fragrance” listed on your shampoo or sun screen, it may well contain a phthalate.
Several studies have suggested that phthalate exposure may have an adverse impact on children’s respiratory health (for example, see here, here, and here). However, none of these studies has considered the potential role of prenatal exposure – exposures to the fetus in the womb – to phthalates.
The prenatal period is a critical developmental window for lung and respiratory health. Thus, researchers at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) hypothesized that prenatal phthalate exposure would be associated with later development of asthma in childhood. To investigate this hypothesis, the researchers measured phthalate metabolite levels in the urine of 300 women in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, and then followed the children of these women to assess the extent to which they developed asthma between the ages of 5 and 11. Read More