Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 14, pp 13589–13596 | Cite as

Is there any association between phthalate exposure and precocious puberty in girls?

  • Mahin Hashemipour
  • Roya Kelishadi
  • Mohammad Mehdi Amin
  • Karim EbrahimEmail author
Research Article


Considerable increase in the prevalence of precocious puberty (PP) during the last decade has raised a lot of concerns. Some environmental endocrine disruptor chemicals (EDCs), such as phthalate esters, have intrinsic estrogen activity or increase endogenous sex hormone levels leading to PP. This study was conducted to investigate the association between exposure to phthalate esters and PP in a sample of girls. Plasma levels of seven phthalate ester metabolites were measured in 87 girls with PP and 63 age- and sex-matched controls by dispersive liquid–liquid microextraction and GC/MS analysis. History of exposure to main sources of phthalates was obtained by a checklist. Diethyl hexyl phthalate (DEHP) metabolite levels were significantly higher in those with PP than that in controls (p < 0.05), but this difference was not significant for other phthalate metabolites. 30.1% girls with PP and 12.2% of controls had played for more than 2 h/day with plastic toys in their childhood. 65.1% girls with PP and 32.8% of controls have regularly used some cosmetic products. Consumption of bottled water and beverages by those with PP was about twofold higher than that in the control group. A positive correlation was found between bottled ware consumption and plasma concentrations of four phthalate metabolites. The frequency of seafood consumption was not significantly different between the groups studied. Our findings confirm positive association between phthalate exposure and incidence of PP in girls. Control and reduction of children exposure to phthalate esters should be considered as a health priority.


Phthalate esters Precocious puberty Endocrine disruptor chemicals Reproductive system Girls 


Funding information

This study was supported by a grant from the Research Institute for Primordial Prevention of Non-communicable Disease, Research Deputy, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran (Research project No. 194151).

Compliance with ethical standards

The study protocol and consent form were approved by the Ethics Committee of Isfahan University of Medical sciences (Project number: 194151). Written parental informed consent and written assent were obtained in all cases.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Endocrine and Metabolism Research CenterIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran
  2. 2.Child Growth and Development Research Center, Research Institute for Primordial Prevention of Non-communicable DiseaseIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Health Engineering, School of HealthIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran

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