Prospective association between phthalate exposure in childhood and liver function in adolescence: the Ewha Birth and Growth Cohort Study

Seonhwa Lee, Hye Ah Lee, Bohyun Park, Hyejin Han, Young Sun Hong, Eun Hee Ha, Hyesook Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Phthalate exposure is ubiquitous due to the widespread use of plastic products in daily life, and affects several health outcomes, including metabolic diseases. In this study, we evaluated the effects of phthalate exposure in childhood on liver function in adolescence. Methods: Among 164 Ewha Birth and Growth Cohort Study participants followed up during two exposure periods (when the children were aged 3–5 and 7–9 years), 126 were followed up at age 10–15 years. To investigate the relationship between phthalate exposure during the two periods and liver enzyme levels (ALT, AST, γ-GTP) in adolescence, differences between groups and the dose–response relationship were analyzed. In addition, we investigated differences in liver enzymes between groups based on the combined exposure levels (high or low) during the two periods. The interaction effect between phthalates and BMI on liver enzyme levels was evaluated, stratified by sex. Results: In the 3–5 year-old exposure period, ALT levels tended to increase as MECPP levels increased, while γ-GTP levels tended to increase as MiBP, MnBP, and ∑DBP levels increased. In addition, the group exposed to consistently high levels of phthalates at both time points had higher liver enzyme levels compared to the group that had lower exposure. In particular, the interaction effect between some phthalate metabolites and BMI in 3–5 year olds affected AST and γ-GTP levels in adolescence only in girls. Conclusions: Exposure to phthalates in daily life during childhood affects liver enzyme levels in adolescence. Elevated liver enzyme levels are associated with the development of metabolic syndrome, implying that attention should be paid to phthalate exposure during childhood.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3
JournalEnvironmental Health: A Global Access Science Source
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Children
  • Cohort
  • Interaction effect
  • Liver function
  • Phthalates


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