Organophosphatesters, commonly used as substitutes for brominated flame retardants, are increasingly present in various environmental media due to their use in consumer products. Humans are exposed to these chemicals through multiple routes, and they can cross the placental barrier and potentially affect offspring growth. The first years of life are crucial for long-term health and development, making it important to understand the effects of these exposures.
A study (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eehl.2023.07.003), published on July 15, 2023 in Ecology, Environment and Health, provides new insights into the effects of prenatal exposure to organophosphate esters (OPEs) on a child’s growth in the first two years. The study, involving 804 mother-child pairs, demonstrates how OPEs differentially affect the growth of boys and girls, an important area that has been underexplored.
The researchers examined how prenatal exposure to organophosphate esters (OPEs) – chemicals commonly found in consumer goods – influences a child’s growth in the first two years of life. The study, involving 804 mother-child pairs, revealed distinct growth patterns in children based on exposure to OPEs during pregnancy. Boys with higher levels of tris(2-butoxyethyl) phosphate (TBEP) tended to have larger heads early on. Girls with higher levels of tris(2-chloro-1-(chloromethyl)ethyl) phosphate (TDCPP) showed increased length and weight growth, particularly evident after 9 months. Advanced models were used to track these growth patterns, indicating that higher prenatal OPE exposure led to accelerated growth rates in children. These findings remained compelling even after accounting for factors such as preterm birth and breastfeeding. This study highlights how early exposure to environmental chemicals can significantly impact early growth and development, providing new insights into long-term health effects.
•Organophosphate esters (OPEs) were detected in serum samples of pregnant women, with tributylphosphate (TBP) being the most commonly detected OPE.
•Prenatal exposure to TBP, tris(2-butoxyethyl)phosphate (TBEP), and tris(2-chloro-1-(chloromethyl)ethyl)phosphate (TDCPP) was positively associated with infant growth trajectories.
•Female infants were more sensitive to OPE exposure than males.
The lead researcher of the study, Dr. Yunhui Zhang, emphasized the significance of this research, stating, „Understanding how prenatal exposure to OPEs affects children’s growth trajectories provides us with important insights into long-term health programs and potential risks, especially with regard to the observed gender-specific effects.“
These findings underscore the need for greater awareness and further research into the health implications of prenatal exposure to OPEs. Understanding these gender-specific effects is crucial for developing targeted public health strategies and policies to mitigate potential risks associated with OPE exposure.
Wang, H., et al. (2023). Gender-specific effects of organophosphate ester exposure on children’s growth trajectories in the first two years. Ecology, Environment and Health. doi.org/10.1016/j.eehl.2023.07.003.