Determinants of phthalate exposures in pregnant women in New York City

Hongxiu Liu, Yuyan Wang, Kurunthachalam Kannan, Mengling Liu, Hongkai Zhu, Yu Chen, Linda G. Kahn, Melanie H. Jacobson, Bo Gu, Shilpi Mehta-Lee, Sara G. Brubaker, Akhgar Ghassabian, Leonardo Trasande

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies have provided data on determinants of phthalates in pregnant women, but results were disparate across regions. We aimed to identify the food groups and demographic factors that predict phthalate exposure in an urban contemporary pregnancy cohort in the US. The study included 450 pregnant women from the New York University Children's Health and Environment Study in New York City. Urinary concentrations of 22 phthalate metabolites, including metabolites of di-2-ethylhexylphthalate (DEHP), were determined at three time points across pregnancy by liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry. The Diet History Questionnaire II was completed by pregnant women at mid-pregnancy to assess dietary information. Linear mixed models were fitted to examine determinants of urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations. Using partial-linear single-index (PLSI) models, we assessed the major contributors, among ten food groups, to phthalate exposure. Metabolites of DEHP and its ortho-phthalate replacement, diisononyl phthalate (DiNP), were found in >90% of the samples. The sum of creatinine-adjusted DiNP metabolite concentrations was higher in older and single women and in samples collected in summer. Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black women had lower urinary concentrations of summed metabolites of di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP), but higher concentrations of low molecular weight phthalates compared with non-Hispanic White women. Each doubling of grain products consumed was associated with a 20.9% increase in ∑DiNP concentrations (95%CI: 4.5, 39.9). PLSI models revealed that intake of dried beans and peas was the main dietary factor contributing to urinary ∑DEHP, ∑DiNP, and ∑DnOP levels, with contribution proportions of 76.3%, 35.8%, and 27.4%, respectively. Urinary metabolite levels of phthalates in pregnant women in NYC varied by age, marital status, seasonality, race/ethnicity, and diet. These results lend insight into the major determinants of phthalates levels, and may be used to identify exposure sources and guide interventions to reduce exposures in susceptible populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113203
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Birth cohort
  • DEHP
  • Determinants
  • Diet
  • Phthalates
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Environmental Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Determinants of phthalate exposures in pregnant women in New York City'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this