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Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2009 Sep;212(5):492-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2009.04.001. Epub 2009 May 7.

Fetal exposure to phthalates--a pilot study.

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Institute and Outpatient Clinic of Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Schillerstr. 25/29, 91054 Erlangen, Germany.


The fetus is considered to be the most sensitive stage of life to the potential developmental and reproductive toxicity of the phthalates. But, data on human fetal exposure to phthalates is still scarce. In this pilot study we collected 11 pairs of amniotic fluid (AF) and corresponding maternal urine (MU) samples during Caesarean section and analysed them for several phthalate metabolites by LC-MS/MS. In all AF samples, metabolites of di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP), diisobutyl phthalate (DiBP), butylbenzyl phthalate (BBzP), di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) were detectable. For the first time, we were able to detect also oxidative phthalate metabolites in AF, with two carboxy metabolites of DEHP showing the highest abundance. In the MU samples, the concentrations of the phthalate metabolites were generally much higher than in the AF samples. There was a statistically significant linear correlation for the DiBP monoester (MiBP) (r=0.93; p<0.001) in the AF and MU samples. We also found a significant correlation for the DEHP monoester (MEHP) (r=0.91; p<0.001), although there was a most likely external contamination with MEHP in the MU samples. Our results suggest that several phthalates or their metabolites, respectively, reach the human fetus, which might be able to affect fetal health. Further research is needed to elucidate fetal metabolism of phthalates and to evaluate the in utero phthalate exposure and the potential effects on fetal reproductive development. Due to the continuous turn over of AF, urinary levels may be most appropriate for assessing both maternal and fetal phthalate exposure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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