Monday, November 16, 2009

Phthalates in Pregnant Women Affect Masculinity of Baby Boys

The fact that hormone-disrupting chemicals present in various household products are interfering with the development of children has been substantiated by researchers at the University of Rochester in New York State, who have reported that baby boys born to mothers with above-normal levels of 'phthalates' generally depict less masculine behavior.

The study, published in the International Journal of Andrology, states that phthalates block the activity of male hormones like androgens, thereby changing masculine brain development.

The findings of the study were based on a phthalate-tracing test that the researchers conducted on the urine samples from mothers in the 28th week of pregnancy. The women, who gave birth to 74 boys and 71 girls, during 2000-2003, were contacted again by researchers, who then inquired from the mothers about the personalities of their toddlers, the kind of toys and activities they liked.

It was found that boys born to mothers with high phthalate levels were less likely to play with guns, cars, and trains; and mostly indulged in “gender neutral” activities, like sports.

The study’s lead author, Shanna H. Swan, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said that the results of the study are “consistent with our prior findings that link phthalates to altered male genital development,” as well as “compatible with current knowledge about how hormones mold sex differences in the brain, and thus behavior.”