Scientists report motor skills problems in children exposed during pregnancy to plasticizer chemicals known as phthalates that are widely used in personal care products like moisturizers and lipstick, as well as plastic containers and children's toys.
The researchers measured levels of phthalates and their metabolites in urine collected from women during late pregnancy and from their children at ages 3, 5, and 7 years.
The Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency short form (BOT-2), a screening test for motor problems, was administered at age 11 to assess motor skills.
The findings suggest that maternal exposure to phthalates in late pregnancy could have long-lasting adverse effects on motor function in children in later childhood, particularly in girls
There was also evidence that childhood exposure to phthalates may have more harmful effects on motor function in boys.
Phthalate exposures likely occurred when expecting mothers and their children unknowingly ingested small amounts of products like lipstick or plastic food containers or packaging.
They may also have absorbed these chemicals through their skin.