Dietary Predictors of Phthalate and Bisphenol Exposures in Pregnant Women

Adv Nutr. 2019 Sep 1;10(5):803-815. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmz029.


Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can disrupt fetal developmental processes during pregnancy, leading to long-term adverse outcomes in humans. A major source of exposure to EDCs, such as phthalates and bisphenols, is the food supply, primarily due to contamination from processing and packaging. Therefore, this review aimed to 1) review food-monitoring sources of phthalates and bisphenols, and 2) evaluate methodologies and provide future directions needed to establish EDC-limiting dietary recommendations in pregnancy. Using PubMed, 10 peer-reviewed studies were found on dietary predictors of EDC exposure in pregnancy, and all were selected for review. Use of plastic containers in pregnancy was associated with higher urinary phthalate metabolites, whereas canned food consumption was associated with higher urinary bisphenol A (BPA) concentrations. Foods and dietary patterns associated with healthier food choices (e.g., organic/grown/raised/caught foods, folic acid supplements, vegetarianism) were generally associated with lower urinary phthalate metabolite and BPA concentrations. Despite the many food-monitoring studies reporting high BPA and phthalate concentrations in various foods, the designs of most studies described here were not sufficiently robust to consistently detect associations of specific foods/food groups with phthalates and BPA. Given the limitations of currently available research, future studies should incorporate more valid questionnaires to accurately assess dietary EDC exposure, strive for concurrent diet and exposure assessment, and assess whether geographical and cultural differences modify associations of diet with gestational EDC exposures. Such progress will be critical for developing dietary recommendations that ensure the safety and health of pregnant women.

Keywords: bisphenols; diet; phthalates; pregnancy; toxicology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / analysis*
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Diet Surveys / methods*
  • Endocrine Disruptors / analysis*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Female
  • Food Analysis / methods
  • Food Contamination / analysis
  • Humans
  • Maternal Exposure*
  • Phenols / analysis*
  • Phthalic Acids / analysis*
  • Pregnancy


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Phenols
  • Phthalic Acids
  • phthalic acid
  • bisphenol A