Longitudinal changes in oxidative stress and early renal injury in children exposed to DEHP and melamine in the 2011 Taiwan food scandal

Hui Ju Tsai, Chia Fang Wu, Chao A. Hsiung, Chieng Hung Lee, Shu Li Wang, Mei Lien Chen, Chu Chih Chen, Po Chin Huang, Yin Han Wang, Yuh An Chen, Bai Hsiun Chen, Yun Shiuan Chuang, Hui Min Hsieh, Ming Tsang Wu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


In 2011, phthalates, mainly di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), were found to have been added to a variety of foods in Taiwan, increasing the risk of microalbuminuria in children. Exposure to melamine perhaps modifies that risk. This prospective cohort study investigates whether renal injury resulting from exposure to DEHP-tainted foods from the 2011 Taiwan Food Scandal is reversed over time. The temporal and interactive effects of past daily DEHP intake, current daily DEHP intake, and urinary melamine levels on oxidative stress and renal injury were also examined. Two hundred possibly DEHP-affected children (aged < 18 years) were enrolled in the first survey wave (August 2012–January 2013), with 170 and 159 children in the second (July 2014–February 2015) and third waves (May 2016–October 2016), respectively. The first wave comprised questionnaires that were used to collect information about possible past daily DEHP intake from DEHP-tainted foods. One-spot first morning urine samples were collected to measure melamine levels, phthalate metabolites, and markers indicating oxidative stress (malondialdehyde and 8-oxo-2′-deoxyguanosine), and renal injury (albumin/creatinine ratio (ACR) and N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase) in all three waves. Generalized estimating equation (GEE) modeling revealed that both past daily DEHP intake and time might affect urinary ACR. However, most interactions were negative and significant correlation was observed only during the second wave (P for interaction = 0.014) in the group with the highest past daily DEHP intake (>50 μg/kg/day). Urinary melamine levels were found to correlate significantly with both urinary ACR and oxidative stress markers. The highest impact associated with exposure to DEHP-tainted foods in increasing urinary ACR of children was observed during the first wave, and the effect may partially diminish over time. These results suggest that continuous monitoring of renal health and other long-term health consequences is required in individuals who were affected by the scandal in 2011.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107018
JournalEnvironment International
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • 8-oxo-2′-deoxyguanosine
  • Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Melamine
  • N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase
  • Urinary albumin/creatinine ratio


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