Environ Res. 2023 Sep 15;233:116513. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2023.116513. Epub 2023 Jun 28.
Phthalates have endocrine activity that may interfere with bone health, particularly during pregnancy and the early postpartum period, when bone resorption increases. We evaluated associations between prenatal phthalate exposure and perinatal bone health among 289 mothers in the ELEMENT birth cohort in Mexico City who were randomized upon recruitment to receive 1,200 mg daily calcium supplementation or placebo throughout pregnancy. Spot urine samples at up to three timepoints during pregnancy were assayed for 9 phthalate metabolites. Bone integrity was assessed by quantitative ultrasound speed of sound (SOS) measurements of the phalange and distal radius at 3, 6, and 8 months of pregnancy and 1, 3, 7, and 12 months postpartum. Geometric means of specific gravity-corrected phthalate concentrations were used as overall measures of prenatal exposure. Linear mixed effect models estimated associations between phthalate exposure and repeated perinatal bone SOS measures, adjusting for age, pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI), education, parity, calcium supplementation, and month of pregnancy/postpartum. Effect modification by calcium supplementation and BMI were assessed in sensitivity analyses. An interquartile range increase in MEP and MiBP increased pregnancy phalange z-scores (β: 0.11; 95%CI: 0.003, 0.31 and β: 0.15; 95%CI: 0.00,0.42, respectively). Higher concentrations of several phthalate metabolites resulted in lower SOS measures among women who received calcium supplements (compared to placebo group) but higher SOS measures among women with a BMI≥25 (compared to BMI<25). These results suggest that phthalate exposure may interfere with bone remodeling during pregnancy, and that consideration of effect modifiers is paramount to fully understand the effects of environmental exposures on bone health.