Baby Care Products Tied to Phthalate Levels in Infants

February 4, 2008

Phthalates, man-made chemicals found in a variety of common household products, which may affect the developing male reproductive system, can be detected in the urine of babies exposed to lotions, powders and other baby products, according to an article published in Pediatrics in February.

MONDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Phthalates, man-made chemicals found in a variety of common household products, which may affect the developing male reproductive system, can be detected in the urine of babies exposed to lotions, powders and other baby products, according to an article published in Pediatrics in February.

Sheela Sathyanarayana, M.D., of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues measured phthalate metabolites in the urine of 163 infants born between 2000 and 2005. An infant was considered to be exposed to phthalates if the mother reported using a baby care product on the infant in the 24 hours prior to urine collection.

In 81 percent of infants, seven or more phthalate metabolites were detected in the urine. Exposure to lotion, baby power and shampoo was associated with increased urinary levels of monoethyl phthalate, monomethyl phthalate and monoisobutyl phthalate. The association was strongest in infants younger than 8 months.

These findings "suggest that dermal exposure may be an important route of exposure for some phthalates, particularly for young infants, for whom associations were stronger than for older infants," write the authors. "In the future, these findings should be used to assess potential health impacts to the infant's developing endocrine and reproductive systems."

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