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Your Environment. Your Health.

Phthalates May Negatively Affect In Vitro Fertilization

Russ Hauser, M.D., Sc.D.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
R01ES009718, R01ES022955, P30ES000002, T32ES007069

The concentration of phthalate metabolites in urine is associated with a negative impact on in vitro fertilization (IVF) outcomes in women, according to an NIEHS-funded study. The findings link exposure to phthalates in women undergoing IVF to lower levels of the ovary cells that are necessary for reproduction, and fewer successful pregnancies and live births.

The analysis included 256 women enrolled in the Environment and Reproductive Health (EARTH) study between 2004 and 2012. Researchers measured 11 urinary phthalate metabolites, an indicator of phthalate exposure, and evaluated the association of metabolite concentrations with IVF outcomes.

The women with the highest concentrations of metabolites had a lower number of oocytes, or number of egg cells in the ovary, compared to women with the lowest levels of phthalate metabolites. The group with the lowest levels of phthalate metabolites also had more women who became pregnant and gave birth than the group with the highest urinary metabolite concentrations.

Citation: Hauser R, Gaskins AJ, Souter I, Smith KW, Dodge LE, Ehrlich S, Meeker JD, Calafat AM, Williams PL; Earth Study Team. 2015. Urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations and reproductive outcomes among women undergoing in vitro fertilization: results from the EARTH study. Environ Health Perspect; doi:10.1289/ehp.1509760 [Online 6 November 2015]

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