Paraben Concentrations in Maternal Urine and Breast Milk and Its Association with Personal Care Product Use

Environ Sci Technol. 2017 Apr 4;51(7):4009-4017. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.6b04302. Epub 2017 Mar 20.


Parabens are broad-spectrum antimicrobial preservatives and fragrances used in a wide range of personal care products, pharmaceuticals, and food providing the opportunity for people to be exposed on a daily basis. In 2009-2010, 80 pregnant women from Ottawa Canada participated in the Plastics and Personal-Care Product Use in Pregnancy (P4) Study. A subset of women (n = 31) who provided multiple spot urine samples (n = 542) collected over two 24-h periods had their samples analyzed for methylparaben (MP), n-propylparaben (PP), ethylparaben (EP), butylparaben (BP), isobutylparaben (IBP), and benzylparaben (BzP). These parabens were also measured in breast milk samples collected at approximately 3 months postpartum (n = 56 women). Women kept a diary of products that they used 24 h prior to and during the collection. All parabens measured in maternal urine had moderate to high reproducibility. Women who used lotions in the past 24 h had significantly higher geometric mean paraben concentrations (80-110%) in their urine than women who reported no use in the past 24 h. Women who used shampoo, conditioner, and cosmetics also showed 70-80% higher BP concentrations in their urine. Breast milk samples had >50% detection for MP, PP, and EP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cosmetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Milk, Human / chemistry*
  • Parabens* / analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Preservatives, Pharmaceutical
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Urine / chemistry*


  • Cosmetics
  • Parabens
  • Preservatives, Pharmaceutical