Urinary paraben concentrations and their associations with anthropometric measures of children aged 3 years

Environ Pollut. 2017 Mar;222:307-314. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2016.12.040. Epub 2016 Dec 26.


Parabens, known as ubiquitous preservatives, have been linked to adverse health outcomes in humans. This study aimed to examine urinary paraben concentrations of children at 3 years of age and evaluate their associations with anthropometric parameters. Urinary parabens including methylparaben (MeP), ethylparaben (EtP), propylparaben (PrP), butylparaben (BuP) and benzylparaben (BeP) were measured among 436 children in a birth cohort using gas chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry. Generalized linear models were performed to evaluate associations of paraben exposures with age- and sex-specific z scores, including weight, height, weight for height and body mass index. MeP, EtP and PrP were the dominant parabens in urinary samples, with the median concentrations of 6.03 μg/L, 3.17 μg/L, 2.40 μg/L, respectively. The median values of estimated daily intake (EDIurine) of five urinary paraben concentrations were 12.10, 5.68, 4.50, 0.06 and 0.17 μg/kg-body weight/day, respectively. Urinary EtP concentrations were positively associated with weight z scores [regression coefficient β = 0.16, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.04, 0.29; p = 0.01] and height z scores (β = 0.15, 95% CI: 0.03, 0.27; p = 0.01). Positive associations were found between the sum of molar concentrations of five parabens and height z scores among all children (β = 0.24, 95% CI: 0.04, 0.45; p = 0.02). These significant associations were only observed in boys. Our findings suggest that exposure to parabens may be adversely associated with physical growth in 3-year-old boy children. Further prospective studies are warranted to understand the toxicological mechanisms of paraben exposures and potential risk of children.

Keywords: Anthropometric measures; Child health; Exposure assessment; Parabens; Urine.

MeSH terms

  • Body Height / drug effects*
  • Body Weight / drug effects*
  • Child, Preschool
  • China
  • Endocrine Disruptors / adverse effects
  • Endocrine Disruptors / urine*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects
  • Environmental Pollutants / urine*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Parabens / adverse effects*
  • Parabens / analysis*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Urinalysis*


  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Parabens