Phthalate exposure in NICU babies

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Categories Birth Stories, Medical, Mommy Issues

My boys were born at 36w3d and each weighed over 6 lbs, but they ended up in NICU for a week due to feeding issues, breathing issues, and weight gain issues. I have since made peace with their stay and the emotional toll it took on me and my husband. I have mourned the loss of a “normal” birth experience. The three years since our short NICU stay has given me ample time to get to a place where I can write that first sentence without tearing up or feeling overly emotional.

Then I read this story on NPR about phthalate exposure in NICU babies. Those little tiny feeding tubes in Nate and Alex’s noses and those IVs? They need soft plastic to function correctly and that soft plastic has been shown to impact sexual development in mice. The study in the article showed phthalates leach out of those tubes and bags into babies.


The good news? Limited studies have shown no long-term impact to NICU babies. The bad news? “any effect on ICU babies is likely to be subtle — a slight delay in puberty, or fertility problems later in life.” At the end of the day, those tubes saved my boys’ lives. I know this rationally, as a former environmental engineer.  And while obviously much more research is needed into this topic,  I couldn’t help but want to title my post “Insult to Injury.”

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4 thoughts on “Phthalate exposure in NICU babies”

  1. It really is so frustrating and stressful when studies like these come out. My daughters spent between 62 and 87 days in the NICU and I know all the doctors and nurses had their best interests in mind… but then you read something like that and you wonder what the future side effects will be. I don’t know if a fertility problem later in life is a “subtle side effect,” considering the deep emotional toll said problems took on me.
    .-= Quadmama´s last blog ..You Just Ate What???? =-.

  2. Yes, I heard this report as well, and it did very much bother me, as my girls we’re in the NICU and intermediate nursery. I think at this stage all we can do is give this story the publicity it needs, since more publicity = more studies. My inclination is to worry, but I’m trying to shoot that down. A friend of mine always says “worry is interest on a loan you may not have to take.” (I think it may be Mark Twain, but who knows). All we can do now is give our kids the healthiest, happiest childhood we can.

    I think about my girls time in the NICU all the time, it’s so intense there, isn’t it?
    .-= Jungletwins´s last blog ..My Gandhi Moment =-.

  3. One of my twins spent 11 days in NICU (thankfully that’s all). I’m not nearly as worried about this study as I am about their day to day exposures. All the chemical exposure from lawn fertilizer, weed spray, bug spray…or indoors using plastic for virtually everything. We are constantly striving in our house to keep their environment as “clean” as possible but there is only so much I can do with out driving myself nuts with worry.

    Hopefully, their young bodies are resilient enough to overcome the onslaught of hazards we don’t know about yet.

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