Plastic chemical may harm boys’ development.

Plastic chemical may harm boys' development.

The Impact of Phthalates on Toddler Boys’ Development


Phthalates, the widely used chemicals found in plastics, have now been linked to developmental issues in toddler boys who were exposed to them in the womb. A recent study has found that boys exposed to phthalates during the first trimester of pregnancy experience emotional and behavioral development issues. These findings emphasize the potential impact of maternal exposure to phthalates and call for greater environmental awareness and action to minimize exposure to harmful chemicals during pregnancy.

Phthalates, also known as “everywhere plastic” chemicals, are commonly found in vinyl flooring, lubricating oils, soap, shampoo, and various other products. While the United States has placed restrictions on the import and sale of toys and childcare products containing phthalates, several states have implemented their own regulations. These endocrine-disrupting chemicals can cross the placenta and mimic or block female hormones, or in males, suppress hormones involved in male sexual development.

The study recruited pregnant women between 11 and 18 weeks of gestation and analyzed their urine for phthalate byproducts, including DEHP, DiNP, and MBzBP. The developmental and behavioral progress of the infants was assessed when they reached the age of 2. The results showed that boys exposed to higher levels of DEHP during the first trimester of pregnancy exhibited lower scores in measures of personal and social development, which encompass skills related to interaction and communication with others.

Interestingly, toddler boys who were exposed to higher levels of DEHP also displayed higher scores on scales of emotional reactivity, anxiety, and depression. Additionally, these boys experienced health issues that could be related to anxiety. On the other hand, no significant differences were observed in girls’ exposure to varied levels of DEHP during pregnancy.

While these findings provide important insights into the impact of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on child development, the researchers stress the need for further studies to better understand the long-term implications of these chemicals on human health.

The research, published in the September issue of the journal NeuroToxicology, highlights the significance of protecting pregnant women and their unborn children from potentially harmful chemicals. As society becomes more aware of the potential risks, it is crucial to take action and implement strategies to reduce exposure to substances like phthalates during pregnancy.

To learn more about phthalates and their impact, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.


QUESTION: The abbreviated term ADHD denotes the condition commonly known as: Answer: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder