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Chemicals in plastic food packaging linked to rise in premature births, study says

·2 mins

Premature births are increasing, and there is uncertainty about the cause. A recent study suggests that synthetic chemicals called phthalates, found in clear food packaging and personal care products, could be a contributing factor. Previous research has shown that phthalates are hormone disruptors that can affect the functioning of the placenta during pregnancy. The study found a link between a specific phthalate called DEHP and preterm labor, estimating that it may be responsible for 5% to 10% of preterm births in the US in 2018. The American Chemistry Council states that not all phthalates have the same characteristics. The use of phthalates is widespread globally, and they are found in various products and materials. Studies have linked phthalate exposure to various health issues, including obesity, asthma, cardiovascular problems, cancer, and reproductive problems. Despite regulations, manufacturers often create alternative versions of chemicals that may be equally harmful. The study used data from the National Institutes of Health to confirm previous findings and discovered that the replacements for DEHP could be even more harmful in causing preterm births. Preterm births can lead to a range of health problems for the baby in the short and long term. The cost of preterm births in terms of medical care and lost productivity is estimated to be billions of dollars in the US. To reduce exposure to phthalates, it is recommended to reduce the use of plastic containers, avoid microwaving food or beverages in plastic, and be cautious of recycling codes.