Phthalates can cause motor deficits in girls born to over-exposed mothers

Prenatal exposure to phthalates, chemical compounds that can be used in various products for common use, especially among plasticising agents, may cause deficits in the motor function of female daughters according to a new study published in Environment International. Phthalates can be found all over the world, from toys and plastic objects to shampoos, nail polishes, paints, adhesives, etc.

The researchers carried out analyses on the levels of phthalate metabolites detected in the urine of several women in the third month of pregnancy. They then carried out analyses of the motor function of these women’s children, which were carried out when the children were 11 years old. The researchers noted a decrease in motor function in girls, and not in boys, whose mothers had shown increased exposure to phthalates.

Specifically, the researchers found three types of phthalates among those most responsible for these deficits: mono-butylphthalate (MBP), mono-benzylphthalate (MBzP) and mono-isobutylphthalate (MiBP). According to Pam Factor-Litvak, professor of epidemiology and senior author of the study, this research confirms that phthalates are harmful to the health of children.

The same researcher explains that girls with impaired motor skills can then have considerable difficulties in various everyday tasks of life, from schoolwork, such as writing, to the use of a trivial electronic device. In the worst cases, there can also be difficulties with coordination between the eye and the hand.

According to the press release of the research, whose first author is Sharon Daniel from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in Israel, phthalates are taken into the body mainly from the diet as they are used to pack food but they can also enter our body through the air as they are also used in special products such as deodorants and perfumes. They can also be absorbed by the skin (with personal care products and cosmetics).

According to researchers, these substances are able to cross the blood-placenta barrier and can adversely affect gestation.