Maternal and fetal exposure to parabens in a multiethnic urban U.S. population

Benny F G Pycke, Laura A. Geer, Mudar Dalloul, Ovadia Abulafia, Rolf Halden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Fetal exposure to five parabens was investigated due to their endocrine-disrupting potential and possible impact on fetal development. Body burdens occurring from real-world exposures were determined typically as total concentrations after conjugate hydrolysis in 181 maternal urine and 38 umbilical cord blood plasma samples from a multiethnic cohort of 185 predominantly-black, pregnant women recruited in Brooklyn, New York between 2007/9. For 33 participants, both sample types (maternal urine and cord blood) were available. Methyl- (MePB), ethyl- (EtPB), propyl- (PrPB), butyl- (BuPB), and benzylparaben (BePB) were detected in 100, 73.5, 100, 66.3 and 0.0% of the urine samples at median concentrations of 279, 1.44, 75.3, 0.39, and <. 0.02. μg/L, respectively. Median concentrations of MePB and PrPB were, respectively 4.4- and 8.7-fold higher compared to those reported previously for the general U.S. population (NHANES, 2005/6). Listed in the order above, the five parabens were detected in 97.4, 94.7, 47.4, 47.4, and 44.7% of cord blood plasma samples at median total concentrations of 25.0, 0.36, <. 0.27, <. 0.09, and <. 0.10. μg/L, respectively. Free MePB, EtPB, and PrPB were detected in a subset of cord blood plasma samples at, respectively, 3.9, 71.7, and 6.4% of their total concentrations, whereas free BuPB and BePB were not detected. Literature data and those reported here show the urban community studied here to rank highest in the world for MePB and PrPB exposure in pregnant women, whereas it ranks among the lowest for EtPB and BuPB. This study is the first to report the occurrence of parabens in human umbilical cord blood. Maternal exposure to parabens is widespread, and substantial differences were found to exist between communities and countries both in the spectrum and degree of paraben exposures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-200
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironment international
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Antimicrobial
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Paraben
  • Personal care products
  • Preservative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)


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