From Green Right Now Reports
Phthalates, the substance used to make plastic pliable, has again been linked to health problems in infants.
The most fragile newborns, those in neonatal intensive care, have a greater exposure to the manmade chemicals because it is in the tubes used to keep them alive, according to the report in August’s issue of Pediatric Research journal.
The fact that phthalates have been found in newborns is not new. We all have phthalate exposure because it has been used in thousands of consumer goods, from cosmetics to car dashboards.
But this study says that phthalates may be responsible for excessive inflammation in newborns.
“That is important because many of the diseases unique to premature babies,” including a chronic lung disorder and an intestinal ailment “are triggered by or associated with excessive inflammation,” researcher Anna M. Vetrano said in a statement. Vetrano, assistant professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, led a team of colleagues in the research.
The plastic tubes are used to ventilate, feed, deliver intravenous fluids and remove waste from premature infants – and the industry that makes those tubes will not change overnight.
The federal government has called for a phasing out of the use of phthalates in products, and has placed limits on the substance in some products, such as toys. Despite that, phthalates abound.
Exposure to the chemical compound, which mimics the hormone estrogen, has been found to cause malformations of infant boys’ reproductive organs.
This new research shows that phthalates allow white blood cells to accumulate, “which supports the idea that they are contributing to damage and to inflammation,” said Dr. Barry Weinberger in the university’s statement. Weinberger is the chief of the neonatology division at the medical school.
In addition to those concerns, phthalates also boost cells’ production of hydrogen peroxide, which can, in excess, kill cells and damage tissue, he added.
Weinberger joined the chorus of those calling for a reduction in the use of the chemicals in the tubes used for newborns in intensive care.
The researchers are now studying how phthalates are transmitted to unborn infants through the placenta during pregnancy, the university report said.
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