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Effect of BPA chemical exposure on a developing fetus

by Aimee Keenan-Greene

Exposure to the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) during the first trimester of pregnancy may be associated with wheezing in children, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says BPA chemical traces have been found for more than 40 years after the manufacture of many hard plastic food containers, water bottles, and the lining of canned vegetable and soda cans, cigarettes, secondhand smoke, vinyl products, and cash register receipts.

Adam Spanier, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics, studied 367 children, 99 percent of whom were born to mothers who had detectable BPA levels in their urine during pregnancy. 

Parents reported any incidents of wheezing twice-yearly, for three years.
At six months, the odds of wheezing were twice as high for children with mothers who had higher BPA than those who had mothers with lower BPA levels. 

Scientists found higher BPA concentrations in the urine of the pregnant women at 16 weeks were associated with wheezing in their babies. Concentrations of BPA at 26 weeks or at birth were not associated with wheezing in their children.

"This suggests that there are periods of time during pregnancy when the fetus is more vulnerable," Spanier said. "Exposure during early pregnancy may be worse than exposure in later pregnancy."

The researchers, who presented their findings this week at the Pediatric Academic Societies' annual meeting in Denver, believe women of child-bearing age should consider avoiding products made with BPA.
 
Previous research suggests prenatal BPA exposure caused asthma in mice, but no data exists for humans. 
 
The National Toxicology Program of the National Institutes of Health thinks exposure to BPA might affect the brain, behavior and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and children.  
 
BPA is present in more than 90 percent of the U.S. population. 
 
Last week The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced the US fails to protect kids from toxic chemicals and is calling for an overhaul of the nation’s chemical management policy. 
 
In a new policy statement published in the May 2011 issue of Pediatrics, the Chemical-Management Policy: Prioritizing Children’s Health, recommends  the chemical-management policy be “substantially revised", and decisions to ban chemicals should be based on reasonable levels of concern rather than demonstrated harm. 
 
Another recent study in the Environmental Health Perspectives said prenatal exposure to pesticides affects a child's IQ years later.
 
Researchers from the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health say this is the first study to evaluate the neurotoxicity of prenatal chlorpyrifos exposure on cognitive development at the time of school entry.
 
Scientists found evidence indicating increases in the amount of chlorpyrifos in the babies' umbilical cord blood were associated with decreases in performance on a measure of cognitive functioning at age 7.