Prenatal exposure to di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate and decreased skeletal muscle mass in 6-year-old children: A prospective birth cohort study

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  • Dong-Wook Lee
  • Lim, Youn Hee
  • Choong-Ho Shin
  • Young-Ah Lee
  • Bung-Nyun Kim
  • Johanna Inhyang Kim
  • Yun-Chul Hong

BACKGROUND/AIM: Phthalate is a well-known endocrine-disrupting chemical that has anti-androgenic effects. Although there are several studies on the relationship between body composition and phthalate, studies that investigated the effects of phthalate on skeletal muscle during childhood are lacking.

METHODS: We analyzed data from 481 mother-and-child pairs enrolled in the Environment and Development of Children cohort in South Korea. We examined the association between phthalate metabolites (mono [2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl] phthalate [MEHHP], mono [2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl] phthalate [MEOHP], molar sum of MEHHP and MEOHP [Σ DEHP], and mono-n-butyl phthalate [MnBP]) in prenatal maternal urine and children's urine at the age of 6, and body composition indices (body mass index [BMI] z-score, percentage of fat mass, fat mass index, percentage of skeletal muscle, and the skeletal muscle index [SMI]) measured when the child was 6 years using a bioelectrical impedance analyzer.

RESULTS: A 2-fold increase in Σ DEHP and MnBP in the prenatal maternal urine was significantly associated with a -0.07 unit (95% CI: -0.11, -0.03) and -0.09 unit (95% CI: -0.14, -0.03) change in SMI, respectively, in 6-year old girls alone. BMI z-score was also negatively associated with a 2-fold increase in MEHHP and MnBP in prenatal maternal urine as -0.11 unit (95% CI: -0.22, -0.01) and -0.15 unit (95% CI: -0.28, -0.02) change, respectively, only among girls. Among boys, phthalate metabolites in the prenatal and children's urine were not significantly associated with any body composition indices.

CONCLUSIONS: Our longitudinal study shows that high levels of prenatal exposure to phthalates are significantly associated with decreased SMI among girls. We can postulate that anti-androgenic effects of phthalates during pregnancy may affect girl offspring's muscle growth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109020
JournalEnvironmental Research
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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