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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Michigan: Study Links Common Chemicals to Preterm Births in Puerto Rico

Scientists seeking answers to what is behind high rates of preterm birth in Puerto Rico have found an association between exposure to chemicals commonly found in many consumer products and a shorter duration of pregnancy and increased risk of preterm birth. 

Dr. John Meeker, professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and colleagues from several U.S. research universities found that higher urinary concentrations of phthalate metabolites in women translated into 42 percent greater odds of having preterm births — before 37 weeks — compared with women with lower exposures. 

“Women with exposure levels bordering the highest 25 percent of the population, on average, had a pregnancy that was one-and-a-half days shorter than women whose exposure was bordering the lowest 25 percent,” Dr. Meeker said. 

Phthalates are found in personal care products such as perfumes, deodorants and lotions, and in food, adhesives, vinyl flooring, plastic shower curtains, some medications and more.

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