Phthalates are a common type of chemical found in many household products, including some types of plastic, personal care products, household cleaners, and more.
According to a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics, prenatal exposure to certain types of phthalates might put children at increased risk of delayed language development.
“This study has a large number of participants, and addresses an important question of whether a mother’s exposure to phthalates in pregnancy is associated with language delay in the child,” Kelly Ferguson, PhD, MPH, a scientist from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences who was not involved in the study, told Healthline.
“There are a number of studies that examine a mother’s exposure to phthalates and neurodevelopment in children, but this is the first using this outcome,” she added.
The study was a collaborative project undertaken by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York and Karlstad University in Sweden.
Researchers from each site collected samples of urine from 370 pregnant women and their children in the United States and 963 pregnant women and their children in Sweden.
After those women had given birth, the researchers gathered information about their children’s development of language.
Children who understood fewer than 50 words by the time they were 30- to 37-months old were classified with language delay.
Across both populations, language delay affected 10 percent of children.