Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical produced in large quantities and used primarily in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.
You’ll find polycarbonate plastics in some plastic water bottles, food storage containers and plastic tableware. Epoxy resins are used in lacquers to coat metal products such as food cans, bottle tops, and water supply pipes.
The primary source of exposure to BPA for many people is through food and beverages.
Why should you be concerned about Bisphenol A?
BPA is thought to act as an endocrine disruptor--a compound that mimics or disrupts hormones produced by the human body. Previous research has linked BPA to asthma, ADHD, depression, anxiety and early puberty in girls. It has also been linked to diabetes, obesity and heart disease in adults.
A new study has also found a possible link between BPA and child obesity.
Researchers at Columbia University found that children of women exposed to BPA during pregnancy were likely to have more body fat by age seven. Increased body fat has been linked to a higher risk of obesity.
"This study provides evidence that prenatal exposure to BPA may contribute to developmental origins of obesity as determined by measures of body fat in children as opposed to the traditional indicator of body mass index, which only considers height and weight,” lead author of the study. Lori Hoepner, DrPH, said in a press release.
Dr. Hoepner and her colleagues studied 369 maternal-child pairs from pregnancy through early childhood.
The researchers collected urine samples during the last three months of pregnancy.
Urine samples were also collected from the children at ages three and five. The children's heights and weights were measured at age five and age seven.
At age seven the researchers also measured waist circumference and fat mass.
The researchers found 94 percent of the women had BPA in their urine--an indication that they had been exposed to the chemical.
Dr. Hoepner and colleagues found that children who had been exposed to BPA in the womb had a higher body fat mass. Even though the children might have been within the normal ranges for height and weight, they had a greater percentage of fat than would be normal at that age.
The researchers found a strong association between BPA, fat mass and waist circumference in girls. They also found that childhood exposure to BPA was not associated with fat mass, indicating that the prenatal exposure was the problem.
Some studies indicate that infants and children may be the most vulnerable to the effects of BPA. This new study also suggests that pregnant women might want to avoid BPA products.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences offers these tips for reducing BPA exposure:
• Don’t microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers. Polycarbonate is strong and durable, but over time it may break down from over use at high temperatures. Use glass or ceramics for microwaving foods.
• Plastic containers have recycle codes on the bottom. Some, but not all, plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.
• Reduce your use of canned foods. Choose glass or other safe packaging or fresh or frozen foods when possible.
• Opt for glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers, particularly for hot food or liquids.
• Use baby bottles that are BPA free.
The study was published in the May issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.
Story sources: Beth Greenwood, http://www.dailyrxnews.com/prenatal-exposure-bpa-was-associated-increased-fat-mass-children-columbia-university-study-found