Prenatal Exposure to Nonpersistent Endocrine Disruptors and Behavior in Boys at 3 and 5 Years

Environ Health Perspect. 2017 Sep 15;125(9):097014. doi: 10.1289/EHP1314.


Background: Sex-specific associations have been reported between phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), and child behavior. No data on large study populations are available for other phenols with possible endocrine-disrupting properties.

Objectives: We aimed to study associations between prenatal exposure to phthalates and several phenols on behavior among male infants.

Methods: We quantified 11 phthalate metabolites and nine phenols (four parabens, benzophenone-3, BPA, two dichlorophenols, triclosan) in spot urine samples collected during pregnancy among EDEN cohort mothers who delivered a boy. Mothers completed the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) when their children were 3.1 (n=529) and 5.6 (n=464) y old.

Results: BPA was positively associated with the relationship problems subscale at 3 y [incidence rate ratio (IRR): 1.11; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.03, 1.20] and the hyperactivity-inattention subscale scores at 5 y (IRR: 1.08; 95% CI: 1.01, 1.14). Mono-n-butyl phthalate (MnBP) was positively associated with internalizing behavior, relationship problem, and emotional symptom scores at 3 y. Monobenzyl phthalate (MBzP) was positively associated with internalizing behavior and relationship problems scores at 3 y. After dichotomizing SDQ scores, triclosan tended to be positively associated with emotional symptom subscales at both 3 and 5 y.

Conclusions: The observed associations between BPA, MnBP, and behavior in boys are consistent with previous findings. Further health impact assessment studies based on dose-response functions corrected for exposure misclassification are required to quantify the public health burden possibly entailed by such associations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Behavior / drug effects*
  • Emotions
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity
  • Endocrine Disruptors / urine*
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity
  • Environmental Pollutants / urine*
  • Female
  • Health Impact Assessment
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phthalic Acids / toxicity
  • Phthalic Acids / urine*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / urine


  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Phthalic Acids
  • phthalic acid