A possible approach to improving the reproducibility of urinary concentrations of phthalate metabolites and phenols during pregnancy

Mahsa M. Yazdy, Brent A. Coull, Joseph C. Gardiner, Andrea Aguiar, Antonia M. Calafat, Ye Xiaoyun Ye, Susan L. Schantz, Susan A. Korrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In epidemiologic studies, classifying episodic exposures to chemicals with short half-lives, such as phthalates and phenols, is challenging. We assessed whether accounting for sources of variability unrelated to exposure pathways would improve the reproducibility of urine concentrations of select phthalate metabolites and phenols. In 2011, a subset of pregnant women (n = 19) enrolled in a prospective study provided first morning urine samples every 3–4 weeks between 16 and 36 weeks gestation. At the time of collection, we identified potential contributors to variations in urinary concentrations: weight gain, gestational age, time slept, time since awoke, time since last food/drink, and time since last void. We estimated intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) among repeat urine concentrations with and without adjustment for sources of variability using a random intercept linear mixed model. Concentrations of monoethyl phthalate, butyl, and propyl parabens were the most reproducible (ICCs: 0.68, 0.56, and 0.56, respectively). However, adjustment for potential sources of variability unrelated to exposure pathways did not materially improve reproducibility nor the ability of a single sample to predict exposure based on average biomarker concentrations across pregnancy. Future studies should carefully consider the exposure timeframe and the reliability of using biomarker concentrations from a single time point to represent exposures over pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-460
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018



  • Child exposure/health
  • Endocrine disruptors
  • Phenols
  • Phthalates
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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