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Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Apr 15;169(8):1015-24. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwp001. Epub 2009 Feb 27.

Maternal urinary metabolites of Di-(2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate in relation to the timing of labor in a US multicenter pregnancy cohort study.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is a plasticizer used in consumer and medical products that can cross the placenta, disrupt steroid hormone synthesis, and activate peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma. The authors examined DEHP exposure in relation to the timing of labor in a pregnancy cohort study of 283 women recruited in 4 US states (California, Iowa, Minnesota, and Missouri) between 2000 and 2004. The authors estimated associations between concentrations of DEHP metabolites and gestational age at delivery using linear regression models and associations between DEHP metabolites and clinical outcomes using logistic regression models. After covariate adjustment, women at the 75th percentile of DEHP metabolite concentrations had a 2-day-longer mean length of gestation than women at the 25th percentile (95% confidence interval: 1.4, 3.3). Log-unit increases in mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalate and mono-2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl phthalate concentrations were associated with increased odds of cesarean section delivery (30% and 50% increased odds, respectively), increased odds of delivering at 41 weeks or later (100% and 120% increased odds), and reduced odds of preterm delivery (50% and 60% decreased odds). These data suggest that DEHP may interfere with signaling related to the timing of parturition.

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