Microwaving plastic food containers can lead to phthalates exposure. Credit: FreshSplash / E+ / Getty

A large-scale study in the United States has found that one out of 10 premature births is linked with pregnant women’s exposure to phthalates — chemicals commonly found in consumer plastic goods.

Frequently used to soften plastic, phthalates are found in items from plastic wrapping and containers to toys and personal care products, reported AFP.

“Phthalates are synthetic chemicals widely used in consumer products and have been identified to contribute to preterm birth,” the study’s authors wrote. “Increasingly, synthetic chemicals are being recognised for potential independent contributions. One class of synthetic chemicals, phthalates, which are used in personal care products and food packaging, induce inflammation and oxidative stress, and are endocrine disruptors, with varying degrees of estrogenic and anti-androgenic effects. Moreover, these pathways interact; inflammation can influence hormonal regulation in pregnancy.”

For decades, scientists have known that phthalates are “hormone disruptors” that affect the endocrine system. The compounds have been associated with heart disease, obesity, some cancers and fertility issues, AFP said.

“Phthalates can also contribute to […]

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