Early prenatal exposure to phthalates — the synthetic chemicals commonly found in household items and personal care products — has been tied to language delays in children, new research shows.
In the first study of its kind, the collaboration between investigators from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City, and Karlstad University, Sweden, showed that the risk for language delay was as much as 30% greater in children whose mothers were exposed to twice the levels of dibutyl phthalate and butyl benzyl phthalate, two chemicals commonly found in such everyday items as cosmetics, plastic toys, and food.
"The bottom line here is that the phthalates that a mother is exposed to in early pregnancy can affect the development of the brain in her children, particularly in this area of language development," principal investigator Shanna Swan, PhD, professor of environmental and public health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told Medscape Medical News.
"Unfortunately, these results point to different phthalates than we've found to be bad actors in the past. We've previously observed negative associations with di-ethylhexyl phthalate, which is more commonly found in food. Now we have more phthalates to worry about," said Swan.
The study was published online October 29 in JAMA Pediatrics.