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Newborns May Be at Risk from Phthalates in Medical Products

April 15, 2015

Newborns May Be at Risk from Phthalates in Medical Products

It is bad enough to have a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit. Now, new research by Johns Hopkins substantiates earlier findings by Harvard and others that babies in neonatal care units using medical equipment containing di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) are ingesting from 4,000 to 160,000 times more of that compound than is considered safe. DEHP is a synthetic plasticizer, which makes polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, more flexible. It is called an “everywhere chemical” because it is included in so many common products. DEPH makes medical products flexible, from intravenous tubing and catheters to plastic sheets, gloves, and fluid bags. The problem is DEHP can leach into fluids and tissue that encounter it over a prolonged period. That spells potential trouble for newborns.

Mounting scientific evidence dating back more than a decade suggests that DEHP may be causing reproductive abnormalities among baby boys. Because infants have different metabolism rates than adults, DEPH has a longer half-life in infants. Numerous animal studies show that high levels of DEHP can cause inflammation as well as lung, liver, heart, brain, and eye problems. That means sick babies could become sicker because of DEHP in medical products meant to help them.

Reasoned Science Will Prevail

Medical and industrial scientists agree that the verdict is still out on DEHP. The reason? They lack large-scale studies to prove or disprove findings that directly link the compound to infant health issues. That research will surely happen. As it does, PerkinElmer’s renowned analytical instrumentation will be right there in the forefront of that research.

Our Clarus® Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) system, for example, helped lead the way in detecting and measuring phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA) in children's toys. Now PerkinElmer technology is helping scientists in both industry and medicine to determine DEHP levels in medical supplies and other items with fast, accurate results.

In science, precision and speed matter. Lives depend on it. That is why PerkinElmer’s innovative detection instrumentation, experience, and the expertise of our 7,600 professionals are always there when it counts. We collaborate with scientists around the globe to help them transform their phthalate data into informed decisions that have a profound impact on life and environmental health… because at the end of the day, we are moms and dads, too.

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