Phthalates are a ubiquitous group of industrial compounds used as industrial solvents and as additives to plastics to make products softer avnd more flexible. Phthalates are found in a variety of products including medical devices, personal care products, flooring, and food packaging. Infants in the neonatal intensive care unit are exposed to phthalates both in the building materials, but more importantly in the medical supplies and devices. Toxicity from phthalates has been of concern to researchers for many decades. Toxicity concerns to neonates includes male reproductive toxicity, hepatotoxicity, cardiotoxicity (including hypertension), neurotoxicity, and neurodevelopmental abnormalities. Limited recommendations have been given for reducing phthalate exposures to premature infants. These include avoiding infusing lipids or blood products through intravenous tubing containing phthalates. Storage of blood in containers made with phthalates has been a strong recommendation and has largely been accomplished. A comprehensive plan for phthalate reduction has heretofore been missing. This chapter has the goal of identifying the problem of phthalate exposure in premature infants, with some practical solutions that can be done today, as well as suggestions for manufacturers to complete the work.
Part of the book: Topics on Critical Issues in Neonatal Care