Background: Hypospadias is one of the most common urogenital congenital anomalies affecting baby boys. Prevalence estimates in Europe range from 4 to 24 per 10,000 births, depending on definition, with higher rates reported from the United States. Relatively little is known about potential risk factors, but a role for endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) has been proposed.
Objective: Our goal was to elucidate the risk of hypospadias associated with occupational exposure of the mother to endocrine-disruptor chemicals, use of folate supplementation during pregnancy, and vegetarianism.
Design: We designed a case-control study of 471 hypospadias cases referred to surgeons and 490 randomly selected birth controls, born 1 January 1997-30 September 1998 in southeast England. Telephone interviews of mothers elicited information on folate supplementation during pregnancy and vegetarianism. We used a job exposure matrix to classify occupational exposure.
Results: In multiple logistic regression analysis, there were increased risks for self-reported occupational exposure to hair spray [exposed vs. nonexposed, odds ratio (OR) = 2.39; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.40-4.17] and phthalate exposure obtained by a job exposure matrix (OR = 3.12; 95% CI, 1.04-11.46). There was a significantly reduced risk of hypospadias associated with of folate use during the first 3 months of pregnancy (OR = 0.64; 95% CI, 0.44-0.93). Vegetarianism was not associated with hypospadias risk.
Conclusions: Excess risks of hypospadias associated with occupational exposures to phthalates and hair spray suggest that antiandrogenic EDCs may play a role in hypospadias. Folate supplementation in early pregnancy may be protective.
Keywords: endocrine disruptors; folate supplementation; hair spray; hypospadias; occupation.