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Environ Health Perspect. 2017 Apr;125(4):730-736. doi: 10.1289/EHP189. Epub 2016 Jun 10.

Urinary Concentrations of Parabens and Other Antimicrobial Chemicals and Their Association with Couples' Fecundity.

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Office of the Director, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, Maryland, USA.



Human exposure to parabens and other antimicrobial chemicals is continual and pervasive. The hormone-disrupting properties of these environmental chemicals may adversely affect human reproduction.


We aimed to prospectively assess couples' urinary concentrations of antimicrobial chemicals in the context of fecundity, measured as time to pregnancy (TTP).


In a prospective cohort of 501 couples, we examined preconception urinary chemical concentrations of parabens, triclosan and triclorcarban in relation to TTP; chemical concentrations were modeled both continuously and in quartiles. Cox's proportional odds models for discrete survival time were used to estimate fecundability odds ratios (FORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) adjusting for a priori-defined confounders. In light of TTP being a couple-dependent outcome, both partner and couple-based exposure models were analyzed. In all models, FOR estimates < 1.0 denote diminished fecundity (longer TTP).


Overall, 347 (69%) couples became pregnant. The highest quartile of female urinary methyl paraben (MP) concentrations relative to the lowest reflected a 34% reduction in fecundity (aFOR = 0.66; 95% CI: 0.45, 0.97) and remained so when accounting for couples' concentrations (aFOR = 0.63; 95% CI: 0.41, 0.96). Similar associations were observed between ethyl paraben (EP) and couple fecundity for both partner and couple-based models (p-trend = 0.02 and p-trend = 0.05, respectively). No associations were observed with couple fecundity when chemicals were modeled continuously.


Higher quartiles of preconception urinary concentrations of MP and EP among female partners were associated with reduced couple fecundity in partner-specific and couple-based exposure models.

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