Prenatal exposure to phthalates may pose a threat to human male reproduction. However, additional knowledge about the in vivo effect in humans is needed, and reported associations with genital abnormalities are inconclusive. We aimed to study prenatal di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and diisononyl phthalate (DiNP) exposure in relation to cryptorchidism, hypospadias, and human fetal Leydig cell function.
We studied 270 cryptorchidism cases, 75 hypospadias cases, and 300 controls. Second-trimester amniotic fluid samples were available from a Danish pregnancy-screening biobank (n = 25,105) covering 1980-1996. We assayed metabolites of DEHP and DiNP (n = 645) and steroid hormones (n = 545) by mass spectrometry. We assayed insulin-like factor 3 by immunoassay (n = 475) and analyzed data using linear or logistic regression.
Mono(2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl) phthalate (5cx-MEPP, DEHP metabolite) was not consistently associated with cryptorchidism or hypospadias. However, we observed an 18% higher (95% confidence interval [CI] = 5%-33%) testosterone level, and a 41% lower (-56% to -21%) insulin-like factor 3 level in the highest 5cx-MEPP tertile compared with the lowest. Mono(4-methyl-7-carboxyheptyl) phthalate (7cx-MMeHP, DiNP metabolite) showed elevated odds ratio point estimates for having cryptorchidism (odds ratio = 1.28 [95% CI = 0.80 to 2.01]) and hypospadias (1.69 [0.78 to 3.67]), but was not consistently associated with the steroid hormones or insulin-like factor 3.
Data on the DEHP metabolite indicate possible interference with human male fetal gonadal function. Considering the DiNP metabolite, we cannot exclude (nor statistically confirm) an association with hypospadias and, less strongly, with cryptorchidism.
Measures of prenatal environmental exposures are important, and amniotic fluid levels may directly reflect fetal exposures during hypothesized windows of vulnerability.
We aimed to detect various phthalate metabolites and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) in human amniotic fluid, to study temporal exposure trends, and to estimate potential associations with gestational week of amniocentesis and maternal age and parity at amniocentesis.
We studied 300 randomly selected second-trimester amniotic fluid samples from a Danish pregnancy-screening biobank covering 1980 through 1996. We used only samples from male offspring pregnancies. We assayed the environmental pollutants by liquid chromatography/triple quadrupole mass spectrometry and analyzed data using generalized linear regression models.
We detected the di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) metabolite mono(2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl) phthalate (5cx-MEPP) at a median concentration of 0.27 ng/mL [interquartile range (IQR): 0.20-0.37 ng/mL], the diisononyl phthalate (DiNP) metabolite mono(4-methyl-7-carboxyheptyl) phthalate (7cx-MMeHP) at 0.07 ng/mL (IQR: 0.05-0.11 ng/mL), and PFOS at 1.1 ng/mL (IQR: 0.66-1.60 ng/mL). An increase of 1 calendar year was associated with 3.5% lower [95% confidence interval (CI): -4.8%, -2.1%] 5cx-MEPP levels and with 7.1% higher (95% CI: 5.3%, 9.0%) 7cx-MMeHP levels. For each later gestational week of amniocentesis, 5cx-MEPP was 9.9% higher (95% CI: 4.8%, 15.2%), 7cx-MMeHP was 8.6% higher (95: CI: 2.7%, 14.9%), and PFOS was 9.4% higher (95: CI: 3.3%, 15.9%). We observed no associations with maternal age or parity.
Measured metabolite levels appeared to parallel decreasing DEHP exposure and increasing DiNP exposure during the study period. The environmental pollutant levels were positively associated with later gestational age at amniocentesis during pregnancy weeks 12-22.