A new study finds that BPA, or Bisphenol A, exposure during pregnancy is associated with sex-specific social disorders, including anxiety in the child as he or she grows.
We use BPA for just about everything – including making plastics harder, preventing bacteria from growing in foods, and keeping cans from rusting.
There’s BPA in water bottles, baby bottles, food storage containers, and even some dental sealants, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences – but as consumers find out how dangerous BPA is, many companies are starting to manufacture and label BPA-free items. Is labeling enough, considering the risks associated with exposure to this chemical?
Dr. Frances Champagne from Columbia University and colleagues have published a new BPA study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America.
Dr. Champagne’s study entitled, “Sex-specific epigenetic disruption and behavioral changes following low-dose in utero bisphenol A exposure” looked at how BPA exposure during pregnancy affects sexual differentiation and behavior. The researchers hypothesized that BPA disrupts the way genes are developed in the brain, and found that when pregnant mice were exposed to BPA, the male off spring had changes in the estrogen receptors of the brain and the female offspring had changes to their hypothalamus.
According to the study, “BPA exposure induced persistent, largely sex-specific effects on social and anxiety-like behavior, leading to disruption of sexually dimorphic behaviors.”
Interview with Dr. Champagne
Decoded Science asked Dr. Champagne what her recommendations are based on the research. Dr. Champagne said that pregnant moms should be avoiding BPA exposure.
“There is increasing concern that low-dose BPA exposure may exert developmental effects that have implications for health and certainly most plastics to which babies and children are exposed to are now BPA-free. However, development starts before birth and so maternal exposure during pregnancy might similarly be harmful. Our data suggest that prenatal low-dose exposure in mice can have epigenetic effects in the brain. Though the full meaning of these findings for human health outcomes is unclear, avoiding use of compounds which could increase fetal BPA exposure would seem appropriate until we understand what the long-term consequences are.”
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