Original Article

Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology (2014) 24, 459–466; doi:10.1038/jes.2013.69; published online 23 October 2013

Personal care product use and urinary phthalate metabolite and paraben concentrations during pregnancy among women from a fertility clinic

Joe M Braun1, Allan C Just2, Paige L Williams3, Kristen W Smith2, Antonia M Calafat4 and Russ Hauser2

  1. 1Department of Epidemiology, Program in Public Health, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
  2. 2Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Correspondence: Professor Joe M. Braun, Department of Epidemiology, Program in Public Health, Brown University, 121 S. Main Street, Providence, RI 02912, USA. Tel.: +401 863 5397. Fax: +401 863 3713. E-mail: joseph_braun_1@brown.edu

Received 7 January 2013; Accepted 31 August 2013
Advance online publication 23 October 2013

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Abstract

Parabens and phthalates are potential endocrine disruptors frequently used in personal care/beauty products, and the developing fetus may be sensitive to these chemicals. We measured urinary butyl-paraben (BP), methyl-paraben, propyl-paraben, mono-n-butyl phthalate (MBP), and monoethyl phthalate (MEP) concentrations up to three times in 177 pregnant women from a fertility clinic in Boston, MA. Using linear mixed models, we examined the relationship between self-reported personal care product use in the previous 24h and urinary paraben and phthalate metabolite concentrations. Lotion, cosmetic, and cologne/perfume use were associated with the greatest increases in the molar sum of phthalate metabolite and paraben concentrations, although the magnitude of individual biomarker increases varied by product used. For example, women who used lotion had BP concentrations 111% higher (95% confidence interval (CI): 41%, 216%) than non-users, whereas their MBP concentrations were only 28% higher (CI: 2%, 62%). Women using cologne/perfume had MEP concentrations 167% (CI: 98%, 261%) higher than non-users, but BP concentrations were similar. We observed a monotonic dose–response relationship between the total number of products used and urinary paraben and phthalate metabolite concentrations. These results suggest that questionnaire data may be useful for assessing exposure to a mixture of chemicals from personal care products during pregnancy.

Keywords:

endocrine disruptors; epidemiology; mixtures; parabens; phthalates

Abbreviations:

BMI, body mass index; BP, butyl-paraben; CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; CI, confidence interval; DBP, dibutyl phthalate; DEP, diethyl phthalate; EDC, endocrine-disrupting compound; MBP, mono-n-butyl phthalate; MEP, monoethyl phthalate; MP, methyl-paraben; PP, propyl-paraben; SG, specific gravity