Associations between urinary phthalate monoesters and thyroid hormones in pregnant women

Po Chin Huang, Pao Lin Kuo, Yue Liang Guo, Pao Chi Liao, Ching Chang Lee

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190 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Maternal hypothyroidism during pregnancy can cause adverse effects in the fetus. Scientific evidence has shown that probable thyroid-like function of some phthalates in vitro and in vivo, and phthalates exposure, can begin in utero. This study investigated the association between phthalate exposure and thyroid hormones in pregnant women. Methods: Serum and spot urine samples were collected from 76 Taiwanese pregnant women at second trimester. Thyroid hormones, including thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4) and free T4 (FT4) were analysed in serum samples, and five urinary phthalate monoesters, including mono butyl phthalate (MBP), monoethyl phthalate (MEP) and mono ethylhexyl phthalate (MEHP), were measured. Results: Urinary MBP, MEP and MEHP, the median levels of which were 81.8, 27.7 and 20.6 ng/ml, respectively, were the predominant substances in the urinary phthalate monoesters. Significant mild negative correlations were found between T4 and urinary MBP (R = -0.248, P < 0.05), and between FT4 and urinary MBP (R = -0.368, P < 0.05). After adjusting for age, BMI and gestation, urinary MBP levels showed negative associations with FT4 and T4 (FT4: β = -0.110, P < 0.001; T4: β=-0.112, P = 0.003). Conclusions: Exposure to di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) may affect thyroid activity in pregnant women, but how DBP affects thyroid function is unclear. Further studies are needed to elucidate the mechanism of action and to investigate whether any other factors related to DBP exposure alter the thyroid function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2715-2722
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Oct

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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