BACKGROUND: Medical devices (MDs) in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are not a well-known source of exposure to plasticizers, in particular during pregnancy. Because of its toxicity, the di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) has been replaced by other plasticizers such as di (isononyl)-cyclohexane-1,2-dicarboxilic acid (DINCH), tri-octyltrimellitate (TOTM) and di-(isononyl) phthalate (DiNP). Our study aimed to quantify the plasticizers (DEHP and alternative plasticizers) contained in PVC medical devices used for hospitalised pregnant women and to describe which these MDs had been used (type, number, duration of exposure).
METHODS: The plasticizers contained in the MDs used for daily care in the Obstetrics Department of a French University Hospital were extracted from PVC (after contact with a chloroform solution), identified and quantified by gas-chromatography-mass-spectrometry analysis. A total of 168 pregnant women hospitalised in the Obstetrics Department with at least one catheter were included in the observational study. The median number of MDs containing plasticizers used and the daily duration of exposure to the MDs were compared in three groups of pregnant women: "Pathology group" (women hospitalised for an obstetric disorder who did not give birth during this hospitalisation; n = 52), "Pathology and delivery group" (hospitalised for an obstetric disorder and who gave birth during this stay; n = 23) and "Delivery group" (admitted for planned or spontaneous delivery without obstetric disorder; n = 93).
RESULTS: DiNP, TOTM and DINCH were the predominant plasticizers contained in the MDs at an amount of 29 to 36 g per 100 g of PVC. Women in the "Pathology group" (preterm labour or other pathology) were exposed to a median number of two MDs containing TOTM and one MD containing DiNP, fewer than those in the "Pathology and delivery group" (p < 0.05). Women in the "Pathology group" had a median exposure of 3.4 h/day to MDs containing DiNP and 8.2 h/day to MDs containing TOTM, longer than those in the "Delivery group" (p < 0.01).
CONCLUSIONS: Our study shows that the medical management of pregnant women in a hospital setting entails exposure to MDs containing alternative plasticizers (DiNP, TOTM and DINCH).