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Environ Health Perspect. 2008 Aug;116(8):1092-7. doi: 10.1289/ehp.11007.

Prenatal phenol and phthalate exposures and birth outcomes.

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Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York 10029, USA.



Many phthalates and phenols are hormonally active and are suspected to alter the course of development.


We investigated prenatal exposures to phthalate and phenol metabolites and their associations with body size measures of the infants at birth.


We measured 5 phenol and 10 phthalate urinary metabolites in a multiethnic cohort of 404 women in New York City during their third trimester of pregnancy and recorded size of infants at birth.


Median urinary concentrations were > 10 microg/L for 2 of 5 phenols and 6 of 10 phthalate monoester metabolites. Concentrations of low-molecular-weight phthalate monoesters (low-MWP) were approximately 5-fold greater than those of high-molecular-weight metabolites. Low-MWP metabolites had a positive association with gestational age [0.97 day gestational age per ln-biomarker; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.07-1.9 days, multivariate adjusted] and with head circumference. Higher prenatal exposures to 2,5-dichlorophenol (2,5-DCP) predicted lower birth weight in boys (-210 g average birth weight difference between the third tertile and first tertile of 2,5-DCP; 95% CI, 71-348 g). Higher maternal benzophenone-3 (BP3) concentrations were associated with a similar decrease in birth weight among girls but with greater birth weight in boys.


We observed a range of phthalate and phenol exposures during pregnancy in our population, but few were associated with birth size. The association of 2,5-DCP and BP3 with reduced or increased birth weight could be important in very early or small-size births. In addition, positive associations of urinary metabolites with some outcomes may be attributable partly to unresolved confounding with maternal anthropometric factors.


2,5-DCP; BMI; birth length; birth weight; creatinine; phenols; phthalates; pregnancy; urinary biomarker

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