Personal care product use and urinary phthalate metabolite and paraben concentrations during pregnancy among women from a fertility clinic

J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2014 Sep-Oct;24(5):459-66. doi: 10.1038/jes.2013.69. Epub 2013 Oct 23.


Parabens and phthalates are potential endocrine disruptors frequently used in personal care/beauty products, and the developing fetus may be sensitive to these chemicals. We measured urinary butyl-paraben (BP), methyl-paraben, propyl-paraben, mono-n-butyl phthalate (MBP), and monoethyl phthalate (MEP) concentrations up to three times in 177 pregnant women from a fertility clinic in Boston, MA. Using linear mixed models, we examined the relationship between self-reported personal care product use in the previous 24 h and urinary paraben and phthalate metabolite concentrations. Lotion, cosmetic, and cologne/perfume use were associated with the greatest increases in the molar sum of phthalate metabolite and paraben concentrations, although the magnitude of individual biomarker increases varied by product used. For example, women who used lotion had BP concentrations 111% higher (95% confidence interval (CI): 41%, 216%) than non-users, whereas their MBP concentrations were only 28% higher (CI: 2%, 62%). Women using cologne/perfume had MEP concentrations 167% (CI: 98%, 261%) higher than non-users, but BP concentrations were similar. We observed a monotonic dose-response relationship between the total number of products used and urinary paraben and phthalate metabolite concentrations. These results suggest that questionnaire data may be useful for assessing exposure to a mixture of chemicals from personal care products during pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Boston
  • Cosmetics*
  • Endocrine Disruptors / urine*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / therapy*
  • Parabens / analysis*
  • Phthalic Acids / urine*
  • Pregnancy


  • Biomarkers
  • Cosmetics
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Parabens
  • Phthalic Acids