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A new study from Rutgers University has found that exposure to a group of chemicals called phthalates can disrupt the production of placental corticotropin-releasing hormone (pCRH), which is critical in promoting the onset of labor during pregnancy.
Women who develop pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure may be especially vulnerable to this disruption.
Phthalates are found in many everyday products, such as plastics, personal care items, and electronics.
The study discovered that phthalates are associated with higher pCRH levels in mid-pregnancy but lower levels later. The hormone pCRH is identical in structure to the corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) produced by the brain in response to stress.
Earlier research discovered women who have experienced childhood traumas have higher pCRH levels.
These findings highlight the importance of investigating the effects of environmental exposures during pregnancy to ensure the health of both mother and child.