Exposure to chemical BPA before birth linked to behavioral, emotional difficulties in girls

October 24, 2011, Harvard School of Public Health

Exposure in the womb to bisphenol A (BPA) – a chemical used to make plastic containers and other consumer goods – is associated with behavior and emotional problems in young girls, according to a study led by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Medical Center, and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia.

BPA is found in many consumer products, including canned food linings, polycarbonate plastics, dental sealants, and some receipts made from thermal paper. Most people living in industrialized nations are exposed to BPA. BPA has been shown to interfere with normal development in animals and has been linked with cardiovascular disease and diabetes in people. In a 2009 study, HSPH researchers showed that drinking from polycarbonate bottles increased the level of urinary BPA.

In this study, published October 24, 2011, in an advance online edition of Pediatrics, lead author Joe Braun, research fellow in environmental health at HSPH, and his colleagues found that gestational BPA exposure was associated with more behavioral problems at age 3, especially in girls.

The researchers collected data from 244 mothers and their 3-year-old children in the Health Outcomes and Measures of the Environment Study, conducted in the Cincinnati area. Mothers provided three during pregnancy and at birth that were tested for BPA; their children were tested each year from ages 1 to 3. When the children were 3 years old, the mothers completed surveys about their children's behavior."None of the children had clinically abnormal behavior, but some children had more behavior problems than others. Thus, we examined the relationship between the mom's and children's BPA concentrations and the different behaviors," Braun said.

BPA was detected in over 85% of the urine samples from the mothers and over 96% of the children's urine samples. The researchers found that maternal BPA concentrations were similar between the first sample and birth. The children's BPA levels decreased from ages 1 to 3, but were higher and more variable than that of their mothers.

After adjusting for possible contributing factors, increasing gestational BPA concentrations were associated with more hyperactive, aggressive, anxious, and depressed behavior and poorer emotional control and inhibition in the girls. This relationship was not seen in the boys.

The study confirms two prior studies showing that exposure to BPA in the impacts child behavior, but is the first to show that in utero exposures are more important than exposures during childhood, Braun said. "Gestational, but not childhood BPA exposures, may impact neurobehavioral function, and appear to be more sensitive to BPA than boys," he said.

Although more research is needed to fully understand the health effects of BPA exposure, clinicians can advise those concerned to reduce their exposure by avoiding canned and packaged foods, thermal paper sales receipts, and polycarbonate bottles with the number 7 recycling symbol, the authors wrote.

Bruce Lanphear of Simon Fraser University was senior author of the study.

Explore further: BPA exposure linked to wheezing in childhood

More information: "Impact of Early Life Bisphenol A Exposure on Behavior and Executive Function in Children," Joe M. Braun, Amy E. Kalkbrenner, Antonia M. Calafat, Kimberly Yolton, Xiaoyun Ye, Kim N. Dietrich, and Bruce P. Lanphear. Pediatrics: online October 24, 2011.

Related Stories

BPA exposure linked to wheezing in childhood

May 1, 2011
If a pregnant woman is exposed to bisphenol A (BPA), especially during the first trimester, her child may be at higher risk of wheezing early in life, according to a study to be presented Sunday, May 1, at the Pediatric Academic ...

Paper money worldwide contains bisphenol A

August 10, 2011
The cash register receipts that people place near paper money in billfolds, purses, and pockets has led to a worldwide contamination of paper money with bisphenol A (BPA) — a potentially toxic substance found in some ...

Study finds highest reported BPA level in pregnant woman and associated abnormalities in infant

May 11, 2011
A new case study examining an infant's neurobehavioral abnormalities and extremely high bisphenol A (BPA) concentration of the baby's mother suggests a link between the two. The study, Environmental Health Perspectives: A ...

Parental exposure to BPA during pregnancy associated with decreased birth weight in offspring

May 5, 2011
Parental exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) during pregnancy is associated with decreased birth weight of offspring, compared with offspring from families without parental BPA exposure in the workplace, according to Kaiser Permanente ...

Exposure to BPA has been underestimated, new research says

June 6, 2011
A new University of Missouri study shows that the exposure to the controversial chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) through diet has been underestimated by previous lab tests. In the study, researchers compared BPA concentrations ...

BPA lowers male fertility: report

June 6, 2011
Daily exposure to a chemical that is prevalent in the human environment, bisphenol A (BPA), causes lowered fertility in male mice, according to the results of a new study that will be presented Saturday at The Endocrine Society's ...

Recommended for you

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

3 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (3) Oct 24, 2011
Interesting. Chicks don't usually go wonky until they reach the age of 12 or 13.
hyongx
1 / 5 (1) Oct 24, 2011
could be correlation, bpa content correlating to increased consumption of processed foods, rather than more raw/natural foods...
JRDarby
not rated yet Oct 24, 2011
BPA's toxicity has been confirmed--yet again. How many times do we need it reconfirmed? How long is too long?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.