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Mom's Chemical Exposure Affects Sons

Two years ago, I warned you exposure to phthalates -- chemicals used to lengthen the life of fragrances and soften plastic in toys and medical tubes -- was likely dangerous, although no extensive studies had been mounted at the time. A new study has finally uncovered the first evidence of the fallout from such exposure in mothers and babies, and the news isn't good.

The more a mother is exposed to phthalates, the greater the risk she'll have a baby boy with smaller genitals and incomplete testicular descent leading to impaired reproductive development. If you're seeing these abnormalities in your little boy, sad to say, don't be surprised: Such alterations were present based on phthalate levels discovered in 25 percent of this nation's women.

Researchers tested levels of four kinds of phthalates in the urine of pregnant women, then examined 134 of their baby boys ages 2-30 months. Even though none of the boys showed clear malformation or disease, in the 25 percent of mothers with the greatest exposure to phthalate, the odds were 10 times higher that their sons would have a shorter than expected distance between the anus and the base of the penis as well as an indicator of the impact on their reproductive system.

While some are cautious about these findings, others are far more concerned for good reason: Phthalate exposure may be contributing to a higher overall incidence of male infertility.

USA Today May 26, 2005

Environmental Health Perspectives May 27, 2005 Free Full-Text Article

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