October 24, 2011
BPA Exposure In Pregnancy Found To Affect Behavior Issues In Girls
In recent years, scientists have linked bisphenol-A (BPA) to a large swath of health problems, including breast cancer and diabetes. Among the many materials containing BPA are plastic bottles, dental sealants, medical equipment, receipt paper, and the linings of metal food and drink cans.
A new study on potential health effects of the compound used in manufacturing, released online Monday in Pediatrics, suggests exposure to the chemical BPA before birth could affect girls´ behavior at age 3, according to researchers.Preschool-aged girls whose mothers had relatively high urine levels of BPA during pregnancy scored worse but still within a normal range on behavior measures including depressed behavior, poorer emotional control, inhibition anxiety and hyperactivity than other young girls, reports Lindsey Tanner, AP Medical Writer.
The behavior of boys did not seem to be affected.
BPA, like lead and other toxins, causes the greatest harm before birth, when the fetal brain is developing. “Parents should be concerned about these findings,” pediatrician Philip Landrigan told USA Today Landrigan is a professor at New York´s Mount Sinai School of Medicine and was not involved in the new study.
Dr. Amir Miodovnik, who studies children´s environmental health at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and was also not involved in the study, called the results, “Very preliminary.” He went on to tell Reuters that “Other groups are going to have to replicate these findings to be able to strengthen the implications of this particular study.”
Study author, Joe Braun, a research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health explains that being exposed to high BPA levels after birth didn´t appear to affect behavior.
“It might be that women who are consuming more processed and packaged foods and more canned foods are also consuming less nutrients that are important for brain development,” he tells Genevra Pittman, writing for Reuters Health.
Still, “There´s a growing body of evidence... that really seems to suggest what you´re exposed to and what happens during gestation can set you up on your life course. The brain begins developing from very, very early in pregnancy. Disruption in development could have lasting effects across childhood and the lifetime.”
Believed to be an “endocrine disruptor,” BPA mimics or interferes with naturally occurring hormones in the body. Canada and the European Union ban its use in baby bottles.
The study was limited to girls, Braun believes, because BPA may interfere with only certain hormones, and boys and girls get exposed to different levels of hormones as they´re developing in-utero.
Additional research is expected and needed to fully understand the health effects of BPA exposure. Clinicians advise those concerned to reduce their BPA exposure by avoiding canned and packaged foods, thermal paper sales receipts, and polycarbonate bottles with the number 7 recycling symbol, Bruce Lanphear of Simon Fraser University writes.
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