Phthalate exposure linked to premature birth
"Our results indicate a significant association between exposure to phthalates during pregnancy and pre-term birth," said the study led by PhD candidate Kelly Ferguson of the University of Michigan School of Public Health.
"These data provide strong support for taking action in the prevention or reduction of phthalate exposure during pregnancy."
The study was carried out at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
A total of 130 women who gave birth before full term took part, along with 352 control participants.
Researchers analysed the women's urine samples at different times throughout their pregnancies for levels of phthalate metabolites.
They found that the pre-term cases showed "significantly elevated levels" of certain phthalates, including di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), mono-(2-ethyl)-hexyl phthalate (MEHP) and mono-(2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl) phthalate (MECPP).
The higher the exposure, the more