Endocrine disrupting chemical exposure and maladaptive behavior during adolescence

Jessica R. Shoaff, Antonia M. Calafat, Susan L. Schantz, Susan A. Korrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Studies suggest that exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), including phthalates, phenols, and parabens may influence childhood behavior, but the relationship during adolescence has not been assessed. Objective: We investigated the association between urinary biomarker concentrations of potential EDCs, including some phthalate and bisphenol A replacement chemicals, and behavior in adolescents. Methods: Participants were from the New Bedford Cohort (NBC), a prospective birth cohort of residents near the New Bedford Harbor Superfund site in Massachusetts. We measured urinary concentrations of 16 phthalate metabolites or replacements, 8 phenols, and 4 parabens in 205 NBC adolescents and estimated associations between select EDCs and adolescent behavior assessed with the Behavior Assessment System for Children, Second Edition -Teacher Rating Scale (BASC-2). Of note, up to 32 of the 205 in our assessment had missing outcome information imputed. Results: Increased urinary concentrations of the sum of 11 antiandrogenic phthalate metabolites were associated with an increase in maladaptive behaviors (Externalizing Behavior, Behavioral Symptoms Index, and Developmental Social Disorders or DSD), and a decrease in Adaptive Skills. For example, a doubling of urinary concentrations of antiandrogenic phthalate metabolites was associated with an increased risk of Externalizing Behavior (RR=1.04; 95% CI: 1.01–1.08). While associations were generally stronger in males, sex differences were not statistically significant. Urine concentrations of phenols and parabens were not associated with adverse behavior. Conclusion: Our findings support the importance of exposure to antiandrogenic phthalates during adolescence as a potential correlate of maladaptive behaviors including Externalizing Behavior, DSD behaviors, and decrements in Adaptive Skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-241
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Adolescence
  • Behavior
  • Endocrine disrupting chemicals
  • Parabens
  • Phenols
  • Phthalates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


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