Phthalates are substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity. They are in many common household products and can be ingested upon release into the environment. Metabolic by-products of phthalates are excreted in the urine. Studies in rodents exposed to phthalates have shown changes in hormone levels and can cause birth defects. In a recent study presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine this month in Baltimore, MD, researchers reported that an association exists between pregnancy loss and elevated urinary concentrations of phthalates in women having IVF.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention most people in the United States have multiple phthalates in their urine as they easily leach and evaporate into food or the atmosphere. Diet is the major source of contamination although phthalate ingestion may occur by breathing and through skin absorption. Since phthalates are ubiquitous in the environment it is very difficult to limit exposure. Safer phthalate alternatives however, are being developed.
If you have questions about phthalates and pregnancy loss, please contact us!