Bisphenol A and phthalates in utero and in childhood: association with child BMI z-score and adiposity

Environ Res. 2017 Jul;156:326-333. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2017.03.038. Epub 2017 Apr 5.


Objective: To assess the relationship between in utero and concurrent child urinary exposures to bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates with BMI z-score, waist circumference, and sum of triceps and subscapular skinfold thickness in Mexican children.

Methods: Among participants (N=249) from the Early Life Exposure in Mexico to ENvironmental Toxicants study, we evaluated associations between maternal third trimester and concurrent urinary BPA and individual and summed phthalates metabolites (∑Di(2-ethylhexyl phthalate), ∑high molecular weight, ∑low molecular weight) with measures of weight status and adiposity in children aged 8-14 years. Linear regressions with specific-gravity corrected and natural log-transformed urinary concentrations were estimated, adjusting for covariates. Effect modification by sex was explored.

Results: Prenatal urinary exposure to monobenzyl phthalate (MBzP) was inversely associated with child's BMI z-score (β=-0.21, 95%CI: -0.41, -0.02) and child urinary exposure to mono(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (MEHP) was inversely associated with waist circumference (β=-1.85, 95%CI: -3.36, -0.35) and sum of skinfold thicknesses (β=-2.08, 95%CI: -3.80, -0.37) after adjusting for confounders. In the childhood exposure period, sex modified the relationships with BPA, MEHP, MBzP, monoethyl phthalate (MEP), mono(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) phthalate (MEHHP), mono(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate (MEOHP), and mono(2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl) phthalate (MECPP). In girls, increased BPA exposure was positively associated with sum of skinfold thickness (β=3.47, 95%CI: 0.05, 6.40) while increased MEHP was inversely associated with sum of skinfold thicknesses in boys (β=-2.95, 95%CI: -5.08, -0.82); these results remained in sensitivity analyses after excluding children who had initiated pubertal development (Tanner stage >1 for pubic hair). We did not observe relationships between summed phthalates metabolites at any exposure period with outcome measures.

Conclusion: Our results identified associations between urinary BPA and phthalates metabolites with measures of weight status and adiposity that differed by timing of exposure, sex, and pubertal status. Additional studies are needed to explore how associations may differ between those who are pre- and post-pubertal.

Keywords: Adiposity; Adolescence; BMI; Bisphenol A; Phthalates.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / drug effects*
  • Adolescent
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / analysis
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / metabolism
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / toxicity*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis
  • Environmental Pollutants / metabolism
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure
  • Mexico
  • Phenols / analysis
  • Phenols / metabolism
  • Phenols / toxicity*
  • Phthalic Acids / analysis
  • Phthalic Acids / metabolism
  • Phthalic Acids / toxicity*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Skinfold Thickness*
  • Waist Circumference / drug effects


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Phenols
  • Phthalic Acids
  • bisphenol A