The associations between prenatal exposure to triclocarban, phenols and parabens with gestational age and birth weight in northern Puerto Rico

Environ Res. 2019 Feb;169:41-51. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2018.10.030. Epub 2018 Oct 31.


Background: Prenatal exposure to certain xenobiotics has been associated with adverse birth outcomes. We examined the associations of triclocarban, phenols and parabens in a cohort of 922 pregnant women in Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats Program (PROTECT).

Methods: Urinary triclocarban, phenols and parabens were measured at three time points in pregnancy (visit 1: 16-20 weeks, visit 2: 20-24 weeks, visit 3: 24-28 weeks gestation). Multiple linear regression (MLR) models were conducted to regress gestational age and birthweight z-scores against each woman's log average concentrations of exposure biomarkers. Logistic regression models were conducted to calculate odds of preterm birth, small or large for gestational age (SGA and LGA) in association with each of the exposure biomarkers. An interaction term between the average urinary biomarker concentration and infant sex was included in models to identify effect modification. The results were additionally stratified by study visit to look for windows of vulnerability. Results were transformed into the change in the birth outcome for an inter-quartile-range difference in biomarker concentration (Δ).

Results: Average benzophenone-3, methyl- and propyl-paraben concentrations were associated with an increase in gestational age [(Δ 1.90 days; 95% CI: 0.54, 3.26); (Δ 1.63; 95% CI: 0.37, 2.89); (Δ 2.06; 95% CI: 0.63, 3.48), respectively]. Triclocarban was associated with a suggestive 2-day decrease in gestational age (Δ - 1.96; 95% CI: -4.11, 0.19). Bisphenol A measured at visit 1 was associated with a suggestive increase in gestational age (Δ 1.37; 95% CI: -0.05, 2.79). Triclosan was positively associated with gestational age among males, and negatively associated with gestational age among females. Methyl-, butyl- and propyl-paraben were associated with significant 0.50-0.66 decreased odds of SGA. BPS was associated with an increase in the odds of SGA at visit 3, and a suggestive increase in the odds of LGA at visit 1.

Conclusion: Benzophenone-3, methyl-paraben and propyl-paraben were associated with an increase in gestational age. Concentrations of triclocarban, which were much higher than reported in other populations, were associated with a suggestive decrease in gestational age. The direction of the association between triclosan and gestational age differed by infant sex. Parabens were associated with a decrease in SGA, and BPS was associated with both SGA and LGA depending on the study visit. Further studies are required to substantiate these findings.

Keywords: Birth outcomes; Gestational age; Parabens; Phenols; Triclocarban.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight*
  • Carbanilides / toxicity
  • Child
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Pollutants*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Parabens / toxicity
  • Phenols / toxicity
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Puerto Rico


  • Carbanilides
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Parabens
  • Phenols
  • triclocarban