Phthalates have received much attention in recent years, leading families to ask pediatricians about potential health effects and how to prevent exposures.

Phthalates are a class of synthetic chemicals used in products such as plastic toys, cosmetics, lotions, products with fragrance, shower curtains, medical tubing, vinyl flooring, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and flexible plastic products. These chemicals leach out, and can be inhaled, ingested, dermally absorbed or enter the bloodstream through intravenous (IV) routes.

Several studies have reported detectable concentrations of phthalate metabolites in children’s urine. Concerns over phthalate toxicity have emerged because of growing evidence of adverse impacts on endocrine, reproductive, immunologic and neurologic system function in animals and humans.

Fetal life and early childhood are thought to be the most sensitive time windows for potential adverse health impacts given the rapid period of cell differentiation and organ development. Children and pregnant women are exposed to phthalates through multiple sources...

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