News Headlines Article

Preemies May Be Exposed To High Levels Of Phthalates In The NICU
National Public Radio

Parents with a premature baby in the neonatal intensive care unit don’t need one more thing to worry about. But researchers say that plasticizers used in medical equipment may pose unique risks to very small babies.

The chemical DEHP is used to make catheters, endotracheal tubes and other medical equipment soft and pliable. It and other phthalates have been found to affect growth and development in animal studies. But the doctors at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who conducted this review say they’re more concerned about its immediate health effects on critically ill infants.

“I had wondered for years how much they might be getting and what the health effects might be,” says Dr. Eric Mallow, a former neonatologist who’s now a researcher at Hopkins. “We take the NICU totally for granted, and we don’t necessarily think about the things right in front of us.”