Medical researchers have found that exposure to certain common phenols during pregnancy, especially parabens and triclosan, may disrupt growth of boys during fetal growth and the first years of life. Parabens are commonly used as preservatives in cosmetics and healthcare products and triclosan are an antibacterial agent and pesticide found in some toothpastes and soaps.
Phenol perinatal exposures can affect weight at birth and during early life in experimental studies. Human studies suggested associations between prenatal exposure and birth outcomes but none described effects on weight and height in childhood.
We studied the association of maternal pregnancy exposure to phenols with male offspring postnatal growth.
We measured 9 phenols in spot maternal urine collected during pregnancy. We predicted individual growth trajectories and velocities using weight and height measured the first 3 years of life (at least 4 measures per child), and also assessed abdominal circumference (AC), tricipital and subscapular skinfold thicknesses at 3 years. We studied associations between growth parameters and phenol concentrations using adjusted linear regression models.
Methylparaben concentration was positively associated with weight and height predicted at 6, 18 and 30 months (p-values 0.02–0.13) and with AC at 36 months (? = 4.2 mm; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.7; 7.8). Association patterns for the other parabens were similar but weaker. After adjustment for child height, weight at 18 and 30 months respectively increased by 112 (95% CI, 21; 203) and 128 g (95% CI, 21; 236) for each interquartile range increase in bisphenol A (BPA) concentration. BPA was also positively associated with weight growth at 6 and 12 months (p-values < 0.08); the associations were stronger after height adjustment (p-values ? 0.04).
We relied on only 1 spot urine sample to assess exposure; because of the high variability in phenol urinary concentrations reported during pregnancy, using only 1 sample may result in exposure misclassification, in particular for Bisphenol-A. Nevertheless, our study lends support to a potential effect of prenatal exposure to some phenols on postnatal growth.