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Is Phthalate Exposure In The Hospital Healthy For Your Baby?

You probably remember a study I posted two weeks ago about the extent to which phthalate exposure can harm your male baby: The more a mother is exposed to them, the greater likelihood your baby boy will have smaller genitals and incomplete testicular descent leading to impaired reproductive development.

A brand new study (see free article link below) has discovered babies treated in intensive care units with plastic medical tubing -- IV lines, blood bags, feeding tubes and the like -- had particularly high amounts of a specific phthalate (DEHP).

Although scientists measured DEHP in 54 babies treated at two Boston-area hospitals, the effect of phthalates in their young bodies wasn't studied. But, it's hard to imagine such exposures wouldn't be a problem, especially for babies receiving the most care -- typically fitted with endotracheal tubes and umbilical vein catheters. Especially since they had five times the amount of DEHP in their tiny bodies than babies not treated with them. And, significantly lower phthalate levels were found in the urine of babies who were switched to DEHP-free devices.

Overall, infants with the highest levels of phthalates were 17 times than those measured in the general population.

I read the disregard some had about phthalate exposure, not unlike the skepticism conventional medicine routinely brings to bear on mercury. Not at all surprising, since the FDA issued merely a voluntary, non-binding advisory three years ago, prompting many hospitals to continue using them, although safer DEHP-free alternatives are available and in use by some health care providers.

Just as I remind you to ask your physician about the availability of thimerosal-free vaccines -- that is if you make the conscious choice to have them despite the possible risks -- I urge you to ask your hospital providers about the kinds of devices they use, and request DEHP-free devices if they are necessary.

Environmental Health Perspectives June 8, 2005 Free Full-Text Article

Los Angeles Times June 9, 2005

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