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January 2014

Environmental Phthalate Exposure and the Odds of Preterm Birth: An Important Contribution to Environmental Reproductive Epidemiology

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York
JAMA Pediatr. 2014;168(1):14-15. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.4215

In this issue of JAMA Pediatrics, Ferguson et al1 make an important public health contribution by demonstrating a sizable impact of phthalates, a class of commonly used chemicals, on a health outcome of major public health concern: the growing burden of preterm birth. Worldwide, 15 million babies are born preterm (<37 weeks’ gestation), with rates increasing over 2 decades in almost all countries that have reliable data.2 While the regions with the highest preterm birth rates in 2010 were Southeastern Asia, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa, the United States is sixth among the 10 countries with the greatest number of preterm births. In fact, cases in the United States account for 42% of all preterm births in developed countries.3