BPA Exposure During Pregnancy Linked to Infant Breathing Problems

Women exposed to bisphenol A (BPA) during pregnancy have a higher risk of giving birth to a child that suffers from breathing problems, according to the findings of a new study. 

Researchers from the Penn State College of Medicine unveiled the results of a BPA asthma study on Sunday at an annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) in Denver, Colorado.

The study found that mothers who had high levels of BPA in their bloodstream during pregnancy were more likely to give birth to infants who suffered from wheezing.

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BPA is a chemical that is commonly used to make many plastic products hard and shatterproof. Originally developed as a form of synthetic estrogen, it is used in the manufacture of many consumer products, such as bottles, cups, can liners, baby products and other food containers. In recent years, concerns have grown over the potential human health risks associated with exposure to BPA, leading to many calls for limits on use of the chemical, especially among infant products like bottles and cups.

The researchers looked at 367 mothers and their infants. They found that 99 percent of the mothers had a detectable amount of BPA in their urine during pregnancy. But they also determined that those with high amounts of BPA during pregnancy, particularly the first trimester, were twice as likely to have a six-month-old infant who had breathing problems. The trait seems to disappear by the time the children reached the age of 3.

The findings support previous studies in mice that have linked BPA to asthma. They also support suspicions that BPA is an endocrine disruptor; a class of chemicals which can affect the development and release of hormones in an unborn child.

The researchers concluded that pregnant women should avoid BPA exposure while pregnant.

Exposure to BPA is suspected of causing hormonal changes by impacting the human endocrine system. It has also been linked to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Some prior research has also suggested that BPA side effects can cause developmental abnormalities and other problems over time in infants and young children.

Last year, the FDA recommended that parents take “reasonable steps” to reduce infant exposure to BPA. The federal regulatory agency is currently conducting a re-evaluation of the safety of BPA, after previously indicating that exposure to the levels used in consumer products is safe. The new review was initiated in June 2009 after the FDA received substantial criticism from outside groups, politicians and its own scientists.

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