Urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations and hot flash outcomes: Longitudinal associations in the Midlife Women's Health Study

Ryan S. Babadi, Paige L. Williams, Zhong Li, Rebecca L. Smith, Rita S. Strakovsky, Russ Hauser, Jodi A. Flaws, Tamarra James-Todd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Midlife in women is an understudied time for environmental chemical exposures and menopausal outcomes. Recent cross-sectional research links phthalates with hot flashes, but little is known regarding such associations over time. Our objective was to estimate longitudinal associations between repeated measures of urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations and hot flash outcomes in midlife women. Using data from the Midlife Women's Health Study (MWHS), a prospective longitudinal study, we fit generalized linear mixed-effects models (GLMMs) and Cox proportional hazards regression models to repeated measures over a 4-year period. Recruitment occurred in Baltimore and surrounding counties, Maryland, USA between 2006 and 2015. Participants were premenopausal/perimenopausal women (n = 744) aged 45–54 years, who were not pregnant, not taking menopausal symptom medication or oral contraceptives, did not have hysterectomy/oophorectomy, and irrespective of hot flash experience. Baseline mean (SD) age was 48.4 (2.45), and 65% were premenopausal. Main outcome measures included adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for 4 self-reported hot flash outcomes (ever experienced, past 30 days experience, weekly/daily, and moderate/severe), and hazard ratios (HRs) for incident hot flashes. We observed mostly increased odds of certain hot flash outcomes with higher concentrations of metabolites of di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), monoisobutyl phthalate (MiBP), and a molar summary measure of plasticizer phthalate metabolites (DEHP metabolites, mono-(3-carboxypropyl) phthalate (MCPP), monobenzyl phthalate (MBzP)). Some associations between exposures and outcomes indicated decreased odds. In conclusion, phthalate metabolites were associated with certain hot flash outcomes in midlife women. Midlife may be a sensitive period for higher phthalate metabolite concentrations with respect to menopausal symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114576
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • Endocrine disrupting chemicals
  • Hormones
  • Hot flashes
  • Menopause
  • Phthalates
  • Women's health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Biochemistry


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