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Chemicals in Plastic Food Packaging Linked to 10% of Preterm Births in 2018

Summary

A study by environmental health experts at New York University reveals that phthalates, a class of chemicals commonly used in plastic food containers and cosmetic products, may have contributed to approximately 10% of preterm births in the United States in 2018. Phthalates, added to plastics for flexibility, are found in various products, including food packaging and beauty items. The study, published in Lancet Planetary Health, analyzed over 5,000 U.S. mothers and found a correlation between high phthalate levels during pregnancy and increased preterm births. The researchers estimate that phthalate exposure may have led to over 56,000 preterm births in 2018, incurring potential societal costs of up to $8.1 billion. Despite concerns, the plastics industry disputes the study, emphasizing the need for stronger regulations on phthalates in common items like food packaging. The study suggests minimizing plastic use and adopting safer alternatives to reduce the risk of phthalate exposure during pregnancy.

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