Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Infertile Couples Have Higher Exposure to Phthalates: NTM NEWS BRIEF

A recently published study in Italy found that infertile couples had three to five times higher levels of phthalates in their body than fertile couples who had no problems conceiving.

Among the phthalates that were found at higher levels in the infertile couples were phthalates  most commonly used in plastics (to soften and add flexibility to the plastic) and those commonly used in cosmetics (usually labelled as ‘fragrance’ in the ingredient list).

As endocrine disrupting compounds, phthalates have been known to mimic estrogen and have been linked to early onset puberty in young girls (which have been linked to increase rates of breast cancer in these girls when they grow up).  In boys, excessive levels of phthalate exposure have been linked to ‘demasculinization’ in baby boys.  For more information on what phthalates are, why we should avoid them and how to do so read our post PHTHALATES ABC's.   

The cumulative effects of lifetime phthalate exposure sometimes do not become apparent until adulthood, as is evident in this study.  It is associated with lower sperm concentration and decreased sperm motility in men’s semen, as well as with decreased blood levels of important hormones in men. One recent study showed that phthalate exposure in women during the month of conception was linked with an increased risk of early miscarriage.

The study compared phthalate levels in 56 couples who were seeking help to conceive (having previously been unable to do so naturally) with 56 couples who had conceived at least one healthy child naturally.    Both the men and women in the infertile group showed significantly (3-5 times higher) higher levels of all phthalates in their urine samples in comparison to the fertile group.


The study serves to reenforce how important it is to decrease phthalate exposure in our children and in our every day life.   As with many chemicals, the effects of these toxic chemicals might not be visible  (a rash etc) but are quite serious and hazardous.  Phthalates can be found in products as diverse as:  plastic containers, plastic food wrappers, shower curtains, plastic toys, hand lotion, shampoos, cleaning products, soap, cosmetics, air fresheners (ie:  plug ins and sprays) etc.

To read more on the what phthalates are and where they can be found, read our post:   Phthalates ABC’s

To read more about what easy steps you can take to avoid  or reduce phthalates exposure for your family and for yourself, read our post on The Non-Toxic Munchkins Phthalates 123's

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