Dr. Morice has always encouraged his tubal reversal patients to avoid exposure to toxins during pregnancy. A recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that exposure to phthalates during pregnancy significantly increases the risk of preterm delivery. While phthalates are in the process of being phased out, this is an important development that emphasizes why women should take extra steps to avoid them during pregnancy.
What are phthalates?
Phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates) are chemical plasticizers that are used to soften polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC. Phthalates are not chemically bound to the plastics they soften, however, and are therefore continuously released into the environment they’re surrounded by. This environment can be air, food, or liquid. Bisphenol-A, commonly known as BPA, is an example of a plasticizer.
Where are phthalates found?
Unfortunately, phthalates are found in many of your daily household products. Although they are mainly used to soften PVC, they are also used in many health and beauty products, such as shampoo and lotion. Phthalates lend fragrance, so many products with fragrance also include phthalates.
How do phthalates get into my body?
Phthalates can enter your body through digestion, inhalation, and absorption.
- Ingestion: If you eat food or beverages that were packaged in packaging that contains phthalates, it’s possible the phthalates have leeched into it. Eating this food or beverage will lead to ingestion of the phthalates. This also poses a large problem for young children who constantly put toys in their mouth. Many toys are made with phthalates, leading to ingestion of phthalates.
- Inhalation: Plastic products that have a notable chemical smell are possibly off-gassing phthalates. These products include vinyl flooring and car interiors. That “new car” smell might be pleasant, but it’s also an indicator of off-gassing chemicals that can be harmful to you and your children’s health.
- Absorption: Phthalates lend fragrance, increase absorption upon application to skin, and increase spreadability of personal products, such as lotions, make-up, nail polish, deodorants. If there are phthalates in these products, they are absorbed into the bloodstream via the skin. Unfortunately, women of childbearing age were found to have the higest level of phthalates in their blood, possibly because this is also the age group that uses beauty products the most often.
How can I limit my exposure to phthalates?
While they are seemingly ubiquitous, it is possible to limit your exposure to phthalates.
First, research your beauty products to determine whether or not they contain phthalates. Call the company, if necessary. Try to only buy beauty products that are labeled phthalate free.
Buy toys for your children that are phthalate free to limit ingestion of phthalates. Pay special attention to the teething toys and pacifiers you’re buying. You may want to reconsider those air fresheners, as they often contain phthalates. Vinyl shower curtains may off-gas phthalates, as well. Don’t microwave your food in plastic containers, and try glass containers instead of plastic for food and water. A great way to limit exposure to BPA, a phthalate suspected of disturbing your endocrine system, is to avoid canned foods. Cans are often lined with BPA.
As you can see, phthalates are a part of our daily lives, but limiting your exposure to them is possible.