Bisphenol A: prenatal exposure to BPA may cause wheezing in infants.

The latest Paediatric Academic Societies annual meeting which was held last sunday, finds that the higher the amount of Bisphenol A (BPA) an expecting mother is exposed to early in her pregnancy, the more likely her newborn will experience wheezing during the first 3 years of life.
This new study has added to rising concerns about the safety of BPA, a chemical used to manufacture plastics and found in hundreds of household products, including plastic food containers, soda cans and reusable cups.
According to Dr. Adam Spanier, a Paediatrician with Penn State’s Hershey Medical Centre and  lead author of the study, foetuses exposed to high levels of BPA at 16 weeks of gestation had an increased risk of transient wheeze. At 6 months the infants were twice as likely to wheeze; the condition persisted for 3 years then cleared up. If moms-to-be were exposed to BPA later in pregnancy, researchers did not see the same effect.

“The challenge with dealing with BPA is that it has such a broad range, from zero to several thousand,” Spanier explains. “We were just looking to see if any exposure was associated with wheezing.”  At 16 weeks of gestation the women in this study tested positive for BPA levels ranging from 0.4 to 37.5 micrograms per litre.
Previous studies – done mainly on mice – have linked BPA to potential side effects on the brain, behaviour and prostate gland of foetuses, infants and children, according to the Food and Drug Administration.  But officials with the Environmental Protection Agency say there remains uncertainty in the extrapolation of dose levels from animals to humans. Still, last year the FDA concluded that there is “reason for some concern” and beefed up measures to reduce human exposure to the chemical. In particular, the government warned parents to limit infants’ use of products that contain bisphenol-A. 
In response to the study, Steven Hentges, executive director of the Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group with the American Chemistry Council said this: “This small-scale study, which has not been peer-reviewed or published in the scientific literature, is inherently incapable of establishing a cause-effect relationship between any causative agent and wheezing. The statistical associations reported in this study have not been verified or corroborated by any other study on BPA, which is one of the best tested substances in commerce. Based on the full weight of scientific evidence, government agencies around the world have determined that BPA is safe for use.”
Spanier also notes that this investigation, which included 367 pairs of mothers and infants whose BPA levels were tested at 16 and 26 weeks of gestation and again during the delivery, was the first to evaluate the link between BPA and wheezing and the research needs to be replicated in another study population. In this study, 99% of the mothers in the study had detectable levels of urinary BPA at some point during the study. Factors associated with the increased levels in these women included working as a cashier, eating canned vegetables and exposure to tobacco smoke.
Health officials say there are several things that consumers can do to limit their exposure. 
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends purchasing plastic containers marked at the bottom with recycle codes 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6  because they are very unlikely to contain BPA. You can also look for the “BPA-Free” label when shopping for canned goods and various household items.
Experts from the National Institutes of Health recommend consumers avoid putting polycarbonate plastic food containers into the microwave because high temperatures may break down the chemical and increase the chances of BPA entering your food.
The National Toxicology Program also provides a list of ways to reduce exposure, including opting for fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables instead of canned goods. The lining of the cans are often made with BPAs. They suggest using glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers to store food.
They also recommend consumers beware of the sales receipts you receive particularly at grocery stores and ATMs, as the developer used for dyes in thermal paper may contain levels of BPA which could pose a risk for human exposure. An NIH spokesperson suggests not taking a receipt unless you have to while the government continues to investigate.

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12 thoughts on “Bisphenol A: prenatal exposure to BPA may cause wheezing in infants.

  1. @Ahmad: this is more to do with risk trade-offs, though the blogger is suppose to comment on this.

    1. @hady: it depends on which way the pendulum swings. Just as ‘market failures’ occur when market fails because the full set of consequences is not considered by market decision makers, so may risk trade-offs occur if policy makers fail to take proper account of the externalities. thus the two terms (ie countervailing risk and risk trade-offs) cud be used interchangeably depending on the situation @ hand.

  2. @Jalal: I like the way you explained the scenario. However, you’re mute on BPA having role in type 2 DM. What is your catch on this?

  3. @hady: EDC having role in type 2 diabetes……this is a PhD material. Already a study is on-going to be able to uncover the link between EDCs and type 2 DM. Let’s wait for the outcome in due course.

  4. Jalal, this is indeed a nice blog post & I must commend you on that. It’s a fact that the study has added to rising concerns about the safety of using plastics & other household products which plays vital role in our daily lives. Is this another way of saying we should stop using plastic food containers, soda cans & reusable cups? Is this one of the negative effects of globalisation, 21st century industrialisation or simply the risk trade-offs which Hady mentioned earlier?

  5. @Jalal, this is a nice post….I must admit to that. I can now see the reason why there’s an alarming increase in the number of Asthmatics more than ever before. I hope researchers should join heads together to get a replacement to BPAs else many other diseases will soon start having links to it.
    @Hadi: EDCs….talk more!

  6. I think the recommendations given by the dept of Hlth n Human Services of the USA suffices. It’s all in the name of industrialisation that these probs are emanating. God save us!

  7. @Aisha: EDCs is a short form of Endocrine disrupting chemicals… of our medical jargons (laugh).

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