Phthalates biomarker identification and exposure estimates in a population of pregnant women

Xiaoyong Yan, Antonia Calafat, Susan Lashley, John Smulian, Cande Ananth, Dana Barr, Manori Silva, Thomas Ledoux, Paromita Hore, Mark G. Robson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations


Phthalates are known reproductive and developmental toxicants in experimental animals. However, in humans, there are few data on the exposure of pregnant women that can be used to assess the potential developmental exposure experienced by the fetus. We measured several phthalate metabolites in maternal urine, maternal serum, and cord serum samples collected at the time of delivery from 150 pregnant women from central New Jersey. The urinary concentrations of most metabolites were comparable to or less than among the U.S. general population, except for mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP), mono(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) phthalate (MEHHP), and mono(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate (MEOHP), three metabolites of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP). The median urinary concentrations of MEHHP (109 μg/l) and MEOHP (95.1 μg/l) were more than 5 times their population-based concentrations, whereas the median urinary concentration of MEHP was more than 20 times higher. High concentration of MEHP may indicate a recent exposure to the parent chemical DEHP in the hospital shortly before the collection of the samples. Calculation of daily intakes using the urinary biomarker data reveals that none of the pregnant women tested had integrated exposures to DEHP greater than the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's minimal risk levels (MRLs chronic 60, intermediate 100 μg/kg/day). No abnormal birth outcomes (e.g., birth weight, Apgar Score, and gestational age) were noted in those newborns whose mothers had relatively greater exposure to DEHP during the perinatal period than others in this study. Significantly greater concentrations and detection frequencies in maternal urine than in maternal serum and cord serum suggest that the urinary concentrations of the phthalate metabolites may be more reliable biomarkers of exposure than their concentrations in other biological specimens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)565-578
Number of pages14
JournalHuman and Ecological Risk Assessment
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecological Modeling
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


  • Children
  • Daily intake
  • Metabolites
  • Phthalates
  • Risk assessment
  • Women

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Phthalates biomarker identification and exposure estimates in a population of pregnant women'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Yan, X., Calafat, A., Lashley, S., Smulian, J., Ananth, C., Barr, D., Silva, M., Ledoux, T., Hore, P., & Robson, M. G. (2009). Phthalates biomarker identification and exposure estimates in a population of pregnant women. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, 15(3), 565-578.