Variability and predictors of urinary phthalate metabolites in Spanish pregnant women

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2015 Mar;218(2):220-31. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2014.11.003. Epub 2014 Dec 3.


Developmental exposure to phthalates may be associated with adverse health outcomes but information on the variability and predictors of urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations during pregnancy is limited. We evaluated in Spanish pregnant women (n=391) the reproducibility of urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations and predictors of exposure. We measured mono-(4-methyl-7-hydroxyoctyl) phthalate (7-OHMMeOP), mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP), mono-(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) phthalate (MEHHP), mono-(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate (MEOHP), mono-(2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl) phthalate (MECPP), mono-(2-carboxyhexyl) phthalate (MCMHP), mono-benzyl phthalate (MBzP), mono-ethyl phthalate (MEP), mono-iso-butyl phthalate (MiBP) and mono-n-butyl phthalate (MnBP) in two spot urine samples collected in the first and third pregnancy trimesters. Questionnaires on predictors and food-frequency questionnaires were administered in the first and/or third pregnancy trimesters. Using creatinine-adjusted phthalate metabolite concentrations (log10-trasformed) we calculated intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs). Linear mixed and regression models assessed the associations between predictors and phthalate metabolites. The ICCs ranged from 0.24 to 0.07 and were higher for MBzP, MEP, MiBP, and lower for MEOHP and MEHHP. Overweight, lower education and social class, and less frequent consumption of organic food were associated with higher levels of some phthalate metabolites. The use of household cleaning products (bleach, ammonia, glass cleaners, oven cleaning sprays and degreasing products) at least once per week during pregnancy was associated with 10-44% higher urinary phthalate metabolites. Bottled-water consumption, consumption of food groups usually stored in plastic containers or cans, use of plastic containers for heating food and cosmetic use were not associated with increased concentrations of phthalate metabolites. This large study with repeated phthalate measurements suggests that, in this Spanish setting, sociodemographic and lifestyle factors and household cleaning product use are better predictors of phthalate exposure levels in pregnant women than average water and food consumption and use of plastic containers and cosmetics.

Keywords: Biomonitoring; Endocrine disruptors; Phthalates; Predictors; Pregnancy; Variability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cosmetics / analysis
  • Creatinine / urine
  • Drinking Water
  • Eating
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Food Packaging / statistics & numerical data
  • Household Products / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Linear Models
  • Maternal Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Phthalic Acids / urine*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First / urine
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third / urine
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Social Class
  • Spain
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Cosmetics
  • Drinking Water
  • Phthalic Acids
  • phthalic acid
  • Creatinine