Plastic causes high blood pressure in pregnant women, new research shows

A study of pregnant women found that exposure to a group of chemicals in plastics was linked to a spike in blood pressure during late pregnancy.

A team of researchers has established a link between plastics and high blood pressure in pregnant woman. They concluded that a group of chemicals, found in plastics and other household products, could cause a rise in blood pressure during late pregnancy.

Prenatal Exposure To Plastics

The study by scientists at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, also found that exposure to these products is also associated with long-term changes in blood pressure.

These findings were made after researchers analysed the phthalate concentrations in urine samples from 892 pregnant in Mexico City. The more exposure to these compounds, the higher the blood pressure in the third trimester.

First author of the research, published in the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, Haotian Wu said:

These findings suggest that exposure to phthalates during pregnancy may have life-long consequences on the blood pressure trajectory, potentially elevating the risk for chronic illnesses later in life, such as hypertension

The chemicals, known as phthalates, are common in many consumer and household products like toys, vinyl flooring tiles and scented products such as perfumes and air fresheners.

Risks & Limitations

These chemicals enter the human body through ingestion, skin absorption and inhalation and could cause respiratory problems like asthma. Exposure to phthalates also impact childhood brain development, IQ and thyroid function.

In an accompanying editorial, Ivan A. Arenas at Columbia University Division of Cardiology, writes:

the study by Wu and colleagues opens new avenues for research on the role of environmental exposures and blood pressure levels, specifically on the effect of phthalates on pathways regulating blood pressure.

However, the research could not establish the biological mechanisms that underlie the associations of phthalate and high blood pressure in pregnancy. The team says more research is needed in that area. Andrea Deierlein is senior author:

Our findings suggest that prenatal exposures to phthalates may influence women's cardiometabolic health and will hopefully stimulate future research regarding potential changes to blood pressure, and other risk factors, during early pregnancy, as well as long-term consequences.
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