Background: Newborns in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) are in contact with a variety of medical products whose production might include synthetic chemicals with hormonal activity.
Objectives: Our aim was to assess the content of bisphenol A (BPA) and parabens (PBs) and the hormone-like activities of a subset of medical products commonly used in NICUs in prolonged intimate contact with NICU newborns.
Methods: Fifty-two NICU items were analyzed, determining the concentrations of BPA and PBs [methyl- (MeP), ethyl- (EtP), propyl- (PrP), and butylparaben (BuP)] and using the E-Screen and PALM-luciferase assays to measure the in vitro (anti-)estrogenic and (anti-)androgenic activity, respectively, of the extracts. Items found to have elevated BPA/PB content or hormone-like activities were further extracted using leaching methodologies.
Results: BPA was found in three-fifths and PBs in four-fifths of tested NICU items, and and of extracts evidenced estrogenic and anti-androgenic activity, respectively. The highest BPA content was found in the three-way stopcock (), followed by patterned transparent film dressing, gastro-duodenal feeding tubes, sterile gloves, single-lumen umbilical catheters, and intravenous (IV) infusion extension sets (concentrations ranged from 100 to BPA). A total PB concentration () was observed in several items, including light therapy protection glasses, patterned transparent film dressing, winged IV catheters, IV infusion extension sets, and textile tape. The highest estrogenic activity [ estradiol equivalent ()] was found in small dummy nipples, three-way stopcocks, and patterned transparent film dressing and the highest anti-androgenic activity [ procymidone equivalent units per gram ()] in small dummy nipples and three-way stopcocks.
Discussion: According to these findings, neonates might be exposed to multiple sources of BPA and PBs in NICUs via inhalation, dermal, oral, and IV/parenteral routes. There is a need to address the future health implications for these extremely vulnerable patients and to adopt precautionary preventive measures as a matter of urgency. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP5564.