Mothers exposed to high levels of phthalates during pregnancy are more likely to bear sons with abnormal genitals, says new environmental research published in the journal Environmental Research. (See what we did there?) The study looked at only 106 mothers and sons, and the afflictions — undescended testicles, smaller penises, and a shorter anogenital distance — aren’t serious problems in and of themselves. But the results, combined with previous studies linking phthalates to reduced sperm quality, DNA damage, hormonal changes, reduced lung function, and premature puberty, make researchers understandably wary. (The American Chemistry Council is decidedly not wary, declaring on its website, “There is no reliable evidence that any phthalate has ever caused a health problem for a human from its intended use.”) Phthalates are in all kinds of things — sex toys, baby items, and yoga mats, to name a few — via which they make their way into drinking water, breast milk, and household dust.
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