Toxics. 2023 Jan 11;11(1):65. doi: 10.3390/toxics11010065.
Phthalates have been linked to changes in child neurodevelopment. However, sex-specificity has been reported inconsistently, and little is known about the impact of recent phthalate replacement chemicals. Our analysis included mother−child pairs (N = 274) from the PROTECT birth cohort in Puerto Rico. Phthalate metabolites were measured in multiple maternal urine collected during pregnancy. Neurodevelopment was measured at 6, 12, and 24 months of age using the Battelle Developmental Inventory-2nd edition (BDI), which provides scores for adaptive, personal-social, communication, motor, and cognitive domains. Multivariable linear regression was used to examine associations between phthalate metabolite concentrations and BDI scores, adjusting for maternal age, maternal education, child age, and specific gravity. Sex-specificity was assessed with sex X exposure interaction terms and stratified models. Results show that all five domains were significantly associated with mono-3-carboxypropyl phthalate (MCPP) at age 24 months, suggesting a holistic developmental delay related to this metabolite. Sex-specificity existed for all timepoints (p-interaction < 0.2), in general, showing stronger associations among boys. For example, metabolites of a recent phthalate replacement, di-2-ethylhexyl terephthalate (DEHTP), were differentially associated with the adaptive domain (boys −7.53%/IQR, 95% CI: −14.58, −0.48 vs. girls −0.85%/IQR, 95% CI: −5.08, 3.37), and the cognitive domain (boys −6.05%/IQR, 95% CI: −10.88, −1.22 vs. girls −1.93%/IQR, 95%CI: −4.14, 0.28) at 6 months. To conclude, gestational exposure to phthalates and phthalate replacements was associated with neurodevelopmental delay across multiple domains, with differences by sex and child age.