Plasticizers, infant nutrition and reproductive health

Reprod Toxicol. 2004 Nov;19(1):27-33. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2004.05.011.


Since the 1930s, plasticizers have been used to impart flexibility to an otherwise rigid polyvinylchloride (PVC). Di-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (DEHP) is the most widely used plasticizer in PVC formulations. However, DEHP leaks out from PVC items with time and use and consequently it is an ubiquitous environmental contaminant. To date, very little is known about the actual extent of DEHP exposure in infants, who are believed to be the most sensitive population, as they may be exposed to several different sources (breast milk, infant formula, baby food, indoor air, and by dermal and oral exposure via indoor dust containing DEHP) since early in life and since differences in DEHP pharmacokinetics and metabolism between children and adults have been well documented. Little information exists on DEHP dietary exposure, believed to represent a major source and orally administered DEHP is converted more rapidly to MEHP than other routes of exposure. Although DEHP has been shown to induce toxicity in experimental animals, a limited but suggestive human exposure data causes a serious concern that an early in life DEHP exposure may adversely affect male reproductive tract development. Here, we report a review on dietary phthalate exposure in babies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Diet
  • Diethylhexyl Phthalate / analysis
  • Diethylhexyl Phthalate / metabolism
  • Diethylhexyl Phthalate / toxicity*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis
  • Environmental Pollutants / metabolism
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Genitalia, Male / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Formula / chemistry
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Milk, Human / chemistry
  • Reproduction / drug effects*
  • Risk Assessment


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Diethylhexyl Phthalate