You talkin’ to me?

March 23, 2019

In the 1976 movie “Taxi Driver,” Robert De Niro practices some moves in front of a mirror while saying, “You talkin’ ta me?” Well, new research from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and Karlstad University in Sweden is talkin’ to us all.

The researchers found that in the first trimester, prenatal exposure to phthalates — a chemical used in personal-care products and plastics — has been linked to a disruption in the part of the brain responsible for language development.

Late language development can cause a child to have social, emotional and intellectual problems. How do phthalates do this? They’re known hormone disruptors, and they’re everywhere.

You listenin’ ta us? Everyone can — and should — reduce his or her exposure to phthalates. Moms-to-be in their first trimester should be especially vigilant about following these tips:

• Don’t use plastic containers in cooking or for storage. Don’t heat or microwave foods in plastic containers. Store food in glass, if possible; if you use plastic, the American Academy of Pediatrics says to avoid any with recycling codes 3, 6 or 7, unless they’re labeled “biobased” or “greenware.”

• Ditch cosmetics or household products that have a fragrance — that means phthalates. Look for labels like “phthalate free,” “no synthetic fragrance” or “scented with 100 percent essential oils.”

• Stick with organic produce, lean meats and low-fat dairy. Phthalates are used in pesticides and herbicides, and neither is permitted on foods that are certified organic. So, do everything you can now to keep your fetus healthy and help your child thrive and learn.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.