Exposure during pregnancy to bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical commonly found in plastic bottles and many food packages, may increase a child’s risk of developing asthma, according to new research.
In a study published by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers from Columbia University Center for Children’s Environmental Health measured the concentration of BPA in 568 pregnant women and their children by taking urine samples.
The cohort study began by assessing the women in their third trimester, then began assessing the BPA concentration when the children were 3, 5, 7 and 11 years of age.
The findings suggest a link between high concentrations of BPA in the urine and a higher risk of asthma and wheezing in young children.
BPA is a chemical used in the production of polycarbonate plastic products. It is often used to make plastic beverage bottles, food storage containers, canned food linings, compact discs and even toys.
The study found that a high urinary concentration of BPA at ages 3, 5 and 7 are associated with a higher risk of asthma before the age of 12. High BPA concentrations at age 3 caused a higher occurrence of wheezing at 5 and 6 years of age.
However, high concentrations of BPA assessed during the mothers third trimester was not linked to a higher prevalence of wheezing by 5 years of age. Researchers speculate this may be linked to the testing being conducted during the third trimester, instead of the second trimester.
While they believe assessment during the second trimester may reveal an increased risk, further testing is needed. Typically the second trimester is an important time of development of the immune system and airways of a fetus.
Most Children Have BPA in Their Body
Kathleen Donohue, co-author and assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University found that 90 percent of the children tested during the study had some level of BPA concentration in their body. While the urine test is not a direct measure of BPA, it contains a byproduct of BPA and can measure exposure.
The prevalence of BPA in the environment has been the focus of the media recently as numerous studies have found links between the common chemical and many other conditions. Less than six months ago researchers published findings linking BPA to a higher risk of childhood obesity.
BPA has also been linked to the disruption of hormones, increased risk of developing breast cancer, higher risk of heart disease, and it was found to reduce the chance of successful fertility treatment, causing higher likelihood of failed implantation during in vitro fertilization.
In a study published last month, which was conducted by researchers at Duke University, BPA was found to hinder the proper formation of the human brain with far reaching effects on neurodevelopment and can even effect changes such as weight gain.
BPA was a common chemical used during the manufacture of baby bottles and sippy cups until last year when the FDA imposed a ban on the use of BPA in baby products. Many countries have already implemented bans on the use of BPA in manufacturing children’s products or from use in food packaging.