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DEHP medical exposure linked to attention deficit in children

DEHP medical exposure linked to attention deficit in children

February 28, 2018

Belgium, Exposure monitoring & measurement, Phthalates, Risk assessment, Toxicology, United States

13 April 2016

Source Article:


A group of Belgian researchers has found that critically ill children, treated in hospital intensive care units, are exposed to high levels of DEHP metabolites, which, say the researchers, are strongly associated with long-term attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The results were presented by lead author, Sören Verstraete, at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in Boston on 1 April.

DEHP is widely used as a plasticiser in medical devices, such as catheters and plastic tubing, Dr Verstraete said, despite widespread controls on its use in toys and other articles.

The use of the devices, containing this phthalate, are “potentially harmful” for brain development and function in critically ill children, he said, adding that the development of safer plasticisers for this purpose is urgently needed.

The scientists found that in a sample of 100 healthy children, DEHP blood plasma metabolite levels were almost undetectable, averaging 0.029 micromoles(μmol) per litre(l). But in 490 critically ill children admitted to intensive care units, metabolite levels averaged 4.41μmol/l – 150 times higher. While in care, the children’s phthalate metabolite levels declined rapidly, although on discharge these still averaged 18 times the normal.

Testing the exposed children four years later, the group found that high DEHP metabolite exposure was significantly and strongly associated with attention deficit and impaired motor coordination. The statistical analyses adjusted for the patients’ initial risk factors that could influence the neurological outcome as well as length of stay, complications and treatments in the intensive care unit...

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