Association of maternal urinary concentration of parabens and neonatal anthropometric indices



Parabens are used as preservatives in a wide range of products. Although parabens are generally known as safe, but recent evidences indicate that these compounds could lead to potential adverse effects on fetal growth. Thus, this study aimed to investigate the association between maternal parabens level in a sample of Iranian pregnant women with neonatal anthropometric measures.


This cross-sectional study was conducted in 2018–2019 in Isfahan city, Iran. Early morning urine samples were collected from 117 pregnant women who were in their first trimester of pregnancy. The urinary concentrations of four parabens including methylparaben (MeP), ethylparaben (EtP), propylparaben (PrP), and butylparaben (BuP) were measured by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. To compensate for variation in urine dilution, the paraben concentrations were adjusted by the creatinine levels. Associations between maternal parabens level and neonatal anthropometric indices were evaluated.


The MeP, EtP, PrP, and BuP were detected in %92, %36, %65, and %89 of the urine samples, respectively. No significant association was observed between maternal parabens level and birth length (p−value>0.05). In adjusted model, the BuP concentration in first trimester urine samples showed significantly negative association with head circumference in female neonates [β = −0.013, 95% CI: −0.024, −0.003], while positive significant association with that index in male neonates [β = 0.019, 95% CI: 0.001, 0.038]. In subgroup analysis by sex, in crude and adjusted analyses BuP was found to be only associated with higher birth weight in female neonates. PrP also showed significant positive association with head circumference and birth weight of male neonates in crude analysis.


Findings of this study on the association of urinary parabens of pregnant mothers with birth weight and head circumference suggest that maternal exposure to parabens might impact the fetal growth, However, these findings are based on cross-sectional data, thus the results should be interpreted with caution. The current findings underscore the necessity of providing more strict regulations in industries for limiting parabens use in their products, and the importance of public education for women of reproductive age for using paraben-free compounds.

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We would like to thank all the participants who contributed to this study. This project was based on the Ph.D. dissertation no. 397556 with Code of Ethics IR.MUI.RESEARCH.REC.1397.439. We would like to thank Isfahan University of Medical Sciences for their approval and financial support of this project.


This research was conducted as a part of the Ph.D. dissertation of the first author, supported by Isfahan University of Medical Sciences.

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Correspondence to Hamidreza Pourzamani or Roya Kelishadi.

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Fadaei, S., Pourzamani, H., Ebrahimpour, K. et al. Association of maternal urinary concentration of parabens and neonatal anthropometric indices. J Environ Health Sci Engineer (2020).

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  • Parabens
  • Maternal exposure
  • Fetal growth
  • Prevention
  • Neonatal anthropometric indices