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Your Environment. Your Health.

Prenatal Butylbenzyl Phthalate and Eczema

Robin M. Whyatt, Dr.P.H., Rachel L. Miller, M.D., Frederica P. Perera, Dr.P.H.
Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
NIEHS Grants R01ES014393, R01ES013163, P01ES09600, R01ES008977, P30ES009089


An NIEHS-funded study shows that prenatal exposure to butylbenzyl phthalate (BBzP) can increase a child’s risk for developing eczema. BBzP is found in vinyl flooring, artificial leather, and other materials, which can slowly release it into indoor air.


The study included 407 nonsmoking African-American and Dominican women and their children living in New York City. A urine test during the third trimester of pregnancy assessed BBzP exposure.


The researchers found that onset of eczema by age 2 was 52 percent more likely in children whose mothers were exposed to higher concentrations of BBzP, compared to those whose mothers were exposed to lower concentrations. The African-American mothers were twice as likely as the Dominican-American mothers to report that their child was diagnosed with eczema. However, both groups showed a similar association between BBzP exposure and eczema. The researchers examined allergies as a possible mechanism, but found no evidence of a link between BBzP exposure and allergy.


Citation: Just AC, Whyatt RM, Perzanowski MS, Calafat AM, Perera FP, Goldstein IF, Chen Q, Rundle AG, and Miller RL. 2012. Prenatal exposure to butylbenzyl phthalate and early eczema in an urban cohort. Environ Health Perspect; doi:10.1289/ehp.1104544 [Online 26 June 2012].

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