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Maternal Food and Beverage Behaviors and Discrepant Phthalate Exposure by Race



John Kucklick, Michael S. Bloom, Abby G. Wenzel, Rebecca J. Wineland, Elizabeth R. Unal, John W. Brock, Roger B. Newman, Erica Jamro, Kelly Garcia, Mary Sterrett


Widespread human phthalate exposure occurs from food and water, leached from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics, food packaging, and skin absorption from personal care products. Multiple phthalates are known as antiandrogenic endocrine disruptors, raising concern for adverse in utero exposure during critical periods of fetal development. There has been limited investigation as to the impact of food and beverage choices by pregnant women on measured urinary phthalate metabolites, and even fewer data are available to describe race-specific exposures. We sought to identify food and beverage behaviors associated with greater phthalate exposure and to characterize heterogeneity according to maternal race. We enrolled pregnant African American (n=198) and pregnant white (n=197) women during the second trimester, and measured eight phthalate metabolites in urine, including: MBP, MBzP, MEHP, MEOHP, MEHHP, MEP, MiBP, and MMP. We constructed a composite exposure to anti-androgenic phthalates (∑RPF) as a weighted molar sum of phthalate metabolites. Food and beverage consumption habits, demographic factors, occupation and lifestyle data were collected from interviewer-administered questionnaires. We used a principle components analysis to assess associations between correlated behaviors and urinary phthalate metabolites in African American and white mothers, adjusted for confounding factors. Whites reported significantly greater unprocessed food consumption (42.5% vs 32.0%; p<0.001) and storage of food in clear unbreakable plastic containers (66.5% vs 49.3%; p<0.001) than African Americans, while African Americans consumed more canned fruits and vegetables (23.5% vs 12.2%; p<0.001) than whites. Use of "safe plastics" was weakly associated with most urinary phthalate metabolites, including the sum of MEHP, MEOHP, and MEHHP, metabolites of diethylhexyl phthalate (∑DEHP) found in PVC plastics (β=0.02; 95%CI: 0.01, 0.03). A tendency to use plastics for food storage, microwave in pla
International Journal of Environmental Health Research


Human, phthalate metabolites, race


Kucklick, J. , Bloom, M. , Wenzel, A. , Wineland, R. , Unal, E. , Brock, J. , Newman, R. , Jamro, E. , Garcia, K. and Sterrett, M. (2021), Maternal Food and Beverage Behaviors and Discrepant Phthalate Exposure by Race, International Journal of Environmental Health Research, [online], (Accessed June 14, 2024)


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Created February 23, 2021, Updated August 15, 2022