The study of more than 300 women suggested that exposure to certain phthalates substances commonly used in food packaging, self-care and other everyday products could be linked with pregnancy loss, mostly between 5 and 13 weeks of pregnancy.
The research is the first epidemiological study on non-work-related exposure to phthalates to provide evidence for the possible link among a general population.
Out of concern over the potential health effects of phthalates, the US has banned six of these substances from use in certain products made for young children, researchers said.
But many are still included as ingredients in paints, medical tubes, vinyl flooring, soaps, shampoos and other items.
Additionally, at least one study found that female factory workers exposed to high levels of phthalates through their work were at a higher risk for miscarriage.
But there is little epidemiological evidence of phthalates’ effects on pregnancy among women with non-occupational exposure, researchers said.
Jianying Hu and Huan Shen from Peking University in China and their colleagues wanted to find out if there might be a link.
The researchers tested urine samples from 132 women who had miscarriages and 172 healthy pregnant women in China.
They found pregnancy loss was associated with higher levels of urinary phthalate metabolites from diethyl phthalate (DEP), di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP) and di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP).
Although this does not prove that phthalates cause pregnancy loss, the study suggests an association exists that the researchers said should be studied further.