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Bisphenol A (BPA) linked to behavioral problems in children

Staying hydrated while you are pregnant is key for your health as well as the health of your baby, but if you’re reaching for bottled water every time you need a drink, you could be putting your baby’s health at risk. A new study suggests preschoolers exposed to higher levels of bisphenol A (BPA) in the womb may have more behavioral issues than children with lower exposure to BPA before birth. Here’s more on the study.
Staying hydrated while you are pregnant is key for your health as well as the health of your baby, but if you’re reaching for bottled water every time you need a drink, you could be putting your baby’s health at risk. A new study suggests preschoolers exposed to higher levels of bisphenol A (BPA) in the womb may have more behavioral issues than children with lower exposure to BPA before birth. Here’s more on the study.

What is BPA?

Bisphenol A or BPA is a chemical found not just in plastic bottles, but also food packaging, canned goods, plastic containers, plastic toys and more. The chemical structure of BPA is similar to the hormone estrogen and can have biological effects on children and possibly adults who have high exposure. Research on animals shows that high BPA exposure can lead to changes in the brain, reproductive organs, and behavior. It’s possible that BPA can have a negative impact on human reproductive health, including puberty, fertility, and an increased risk of estrogen-related breast and prostate cancers.

BPA and children

The new study linking BPA and children’s behavior, published in Pediatrics, is the first to show that BPA exposure in the womb may have long-lasting effects in young children. Researchers followed nearly 250 mothers and their babies from pregnancy to age 3, taking three urine samples from the women when they were pregnant and three samples from their children over three years. Researchers gave parents psychological tests to evaluate the children’s behavior.

The result? Researchers found that moms who had higher levels of BPA in their urine when they were pregnant also had preschoolers who exhibited more anxiety, depression, and hyperactivity. Of note, girls are possibly at higher risk of unhealthy effects of BPA. The study indicated that anxiety, depression, and hyperactive scores were higher for girls.

American Chemistry Council responds

According to WebMD, in an emailed statement, Steven G. Hentges, PhD, of the American Chemistry Council’s Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group, says it is unlikely that BPA caused the behavioral effects documented in the study. “The study released in Pediatrics has significant shortcomings in study design and the conclusions are of unknown relevance to public health. Furthermore, regulators from Europe to Japan to the US have recently reviewed hundreds of studies on BPA and repeatedly supported the continued safe use of BPA.”

Researchers caution though that their study was only able to show associations between BPA and behavior. It did not prove cause and effect. But why take the chance of exposing your family to BPA when you can take steps to reduce your exposure?

Reduce your BPA exposure

You cannot completely eliminate your BPA exposure, but you can reduce your exposure by:

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  • using stainless steel, glass, or BPA-free plastic bottles for water,
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  • eating fresh foods and avoid canned goods in cans that are not BPA-free, and
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  • not microwaving food in plastic goods.

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