Association between environmental exposure to phthalates and allergic disorders in Korean children: Korean National Environmental Health Survey (KoNEHS) 2015–2017

Ju Yeon Lee, Jiyun Lee, Da An Huh, Kyong Whan Moon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Phthalates are common industrial chemicals that are used as plasticizers in plastics, personal care products, and building materials. Although these chemicals have been suspected as risk factors for allergic outcomes among children, inconsistent associations between environmental exposure to phthalates and allergic disorders have been found across different populations. Therefore, this study aimed to assess whether environmental phthalate exposure was associated with parent-reported current allergic symptoms (atopic dermatitis, AD; asthma; and allergic rhinitis, AR) and the index of allergic response (levels of serum total immunoglobulin E, IgE) in a nationally representative sample of children. Methods: In this study, children aged 3–17 years (n = 2208) were recruited from the Korean National Environmental Health Survey (KoNEHS) 2015–2017 to conduct an analysis of their current allergic symptoms. Among this number of children, the total IgE analysis included 806 participants because total IgE levels were only measured in children aged 12–17 years. Results: After adjusting for all covariates, mono-benzyl phthalate (MBzP) [OR (95% CI) = 1.15 (1.01, 1.30)], mono-(carboxyoctyl) phthalate (MCOP) [OR (95% CI) = 1.35 (1.02, 1.78)], and the sum of di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate metabolites (∑DEHP) [OR (95% CI) = 1.39 (1.09, 1.79)] were associated with increased odds of current AD. MCOP [OR (95% CI) = 1.19 (1.01, 1.40)], mono-(carboxynonyl) phthalate (MCNP) [OR (95% CI) = 1.24 (1.05, 1.45)], and ∑DEHP [OR (95% CI) = 1.22 (1.02, 1.44)] were also associated with increased odds of current AR. Individual DEHP metabolites showed similar associations with current AD and AR. In addition, MCNP was positively related to IgE levels [β (95% CI) = 0.26 (0.12, 0.40)]. MBzP [OR (95% CI) = 1.17 (1.01, 1.35)], MCOP [OR (95% CI) = 1.62 (1.12, 2.32)], and mono-(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate (MEOHP) [OR (95% CI) = 1.36 (1.06, 1.76)] showed positive relationships with allergic multimorbidity. Moreover, higher concentrations of MCNP were related to increased odds of experiencing both current AR and total IgE levels [OR (95% CI) = 1.98 (1.29, 3.04)], and children with elevated IgE levels (>100IU/mL) were more likely to have current AR associated with MCNP than those without elevated IgE levels (p = 0.007). Specifically, the relationship between MCNP and current AR was significantly mediated through alterations in IgE levels (14.7%), and MCNP also showed the positive association with current AR, independent of IgE (85.3%). Conclusion: These results suggest that environmental exposure to phthalates may affect the immune system and increase the occurrence of allergic symptoms in children.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113857
JournalInternational Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
Volume238
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Sep

Keywords

  • Allergic multimorbidity
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Asthma
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Phthalates
  • Total immunoglobulin E

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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