Women’s Health: Pregnant Women and BPA

A Washington State University (WSU) researcher has found new evidence that the plastic additive BPA (Bisphenol-A) might disrupt women’s reproductive systems, potentially causing chromosome damage, miscarriages and birth defects. The new non-human primate study adds more evidence that BPA may be harming human reproduction.

Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, WSU geneticist Patricia Hunt and colleagues at WSU and the University of California, Davis, report seeing reproductive abnormalities in rhesus monkeys with BPA levels similar to those found in humans. The study featured an animal with the most human-like reproductive system and builds upon earlier work by Hunt and others documenting BPA’s widespread reproductive effects in rodents. The research also adds to the number of organs affected by BPA.

“The concern is exposure to this chemical that we’re all exposed to could increase the risk of miscarriages and the risk of babies born with birth defects like Down Syndrome,” says Hunt. “The really stunning thing about the effect is we’re dosing grandma, it’s crossing the placenta and hitting her developing fetus, and if that fetus is a female, it’s changing the likelihood that that female is going to ovulate normal eggs. It’s a three-for-one hit.”

BPA can be found in many of the common plastic (polycarbonate plastic) food and beverage containers – including plastic water bottles, plastic baby bottles and plastic cups. BPA is also be found in toys and other consumer goods and in the epoxy resins used to coat the inside of metal products, such as food cans, baby formula cans, bottle tops and water supply lines. Another common source of BPA is thermal paper products, which include some cash register and credit card receipts.

The Study
Hunt’s colleagues at UC, Davis exposed different groups of gestating monkeys to single daily doses of BPA and low-level continuous doses and looked at how they affected the reproductive systems of female fetuses. The study showed that in the earliest stage of the adult’s egg development, the egg cell failed to divide properly. Earlier mouse studies showed that similar disturbances translated into genetic defects in the mature egg. A fertilized egg with the wrong number of chromosomes will almost always fail to come to term, leading to a spontaneous abortion. Alternatively, these damaged eggs can result in progeny with severe birth defects.

In monkeys continuously exposed to BPA, Hunt saw further complications in the third trimester, as fetal eggs had not been packaged appropriately in follicles, structures in which they develop. Eggs need to be packaged properly to grow, develop, and mature.

“That’s not good,” says Hunt, “because it looks to us like you’re just throwing away a huge number of the eggs that a female would have. It raises concerns about whether or not she’s going to have a really short reproductive lifespan.”
Via: EurkAlert.org

Minimizing BPA Exposure
If a product label doesn’t mention BPA, remember that most aluminum cans or bottles have linings that contain BPA (they will usually say “BPA-Free Lining” if they don’t), while steel bottles or cans don’t. Polycarbonate plastic (containing BPA) is generally hard, clear, lightweight plastic. It often has the No. 7 recycling symbol on the bottom. Glass bottles are also BPA-free. Other tips:

  • Use glass baby bottles, or those made from safer plastics including polyamine, polypropylene and polyethylene. Soft, or cloudy-colored plastic does not contain BPA.
  • When searching out products that don’t contain BPA look for the words “BPA-Free” on the product label of packaging.
  • Avoid eating canned foods.
  • Avoid microwaving food in plastic containers. The National Toxicology Program advises against microwaving polycarbonate plastics. It is believed the repeated microwaving and heating of plastic containers may break down the plastic allowing BPA to leach into foods.
  • Avoid storing hot foods in plastic containers. Use glass, porcelain, ceramic or steel containers.
  • Avoid washing polycarbonate plastic containers in the dishwasher.
  • Store leftovers and foods in glass, steel and BPA-free containers.

Additional source: The Mayo Clinic

*Note: The American Chemistry Council, an association that represents plastics manufacturers, contends that BPA poses no risk to human health.

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