Skin Health: Prenatal Exposure to Butylbenzyl Phthalate Increases Child Eczema Risk

Published Online: Friday, August 17, 2012
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New technology offers burn patients a laser option for scar treatment, researchers find that hemangioma can be treated sooner in infants, and a study shows that eczema is linked to maternal butylbenzyl phthalate exposure.

A mother’s exposure to butylbenzyl phthalate (BBzP) from common household chemicals may increase the risk of her child developing eczema, according to research from the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health.

The study, which was published in Environmental Health Perspectives, studied the urine in 407 pregnant African American and Dominican women in New York City for a metabolite of BBzP known as monobenzyl phthalate (MBzP). Nearly 100% of women were found to have the chemical present in their urine. The women in the study also completed questionnaires detailing whether their child was ever diagnosed with eczema.

Investigators noticed that an increase of MBzP concentration was positively associated with early-onset eczema. By age 24 months, they found that 30% of the children in the study developed the condition, with African Americans twice as likely to report this diagnosis. Overall, onset of eczema was 52% more likely in children whose mothers had been exposed to BBzP than in those whose mothers had never been exposed.

The children in the study were also tested for common indoor allergens—cockroaches, dust mites, mice, and total immunoglobulin E—in order to explicate the link between BBzP and skin allergy. The scientists found no evidence that these factors were related.

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