New Research Reveals that BPA Affects Pregnant Women

Emerging research reveals that the ubiquitous polycarbonate plastics chemical, bisphenol A (BPA), has adverse effects in expectant mothers.

According to the new UC Berkeley study, BPA appears to change thyroid hormones, which are critical to healthy growth, said SFGate. The change was evident in both pregnant women and newborn baby boys, said the researchers.

As we’ve long explained, BPA’s links to reproductive system diseases are staggering and span to fetal development, likely due to its hormone-mimicking and -blocking properties. Issues include effects on uterine health and mammalian reproduction; a deadly uterine infection; premature puberty; Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and other female fertility and endocrine issues; and erectile dysfunction and male sexual problems. Significantly, BPA’s effects have been found to be immediate, long lasting, and trans-generational, meaning effects could carry years into the future. Despite all this, the FDA said the information on BPA does not suggest that very low BPA exposure through diet is unsafe.

This new study, noted SFGate, adds to the growing health worries about BPA, wrote the researchers, whose findings appear in the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives. The team’s study detected changes in some thyroid hormones—critical to pre- and postnatal growth and brain development—and call for more research to understand how these changes affect infants and their mothers. “A couple studies have looked at BPA possibly influencing thyroid hormones, but nobody’s looked at it in pregnant women,” said Tracey Woodruff, director of UCSF’s Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, who was not involved with the research. “That makes the study important,” she added, wrote the SFGate.

The study involved 476 pregnant women described as being low income, Mexican American immigrants under 30 years of age who had given birth to more than one baby and who resided in Salinas, California, said the SFGate. All of the women were involved in a long-running study of environmental health issues. The researchers reviewed the women’s BPA urine levels during the first and second half of their pregnancies and also looked at thyroid hormone levels in blood samples taken from the pregnant mothers, as well as from their babies a few days following birth, said the SFGate.

Expectant mothers with what were considered relatively higher levels of BPA in their urine had less of the thyroid hormone “total thyroxine” in their blood, the team said. The team noted that while it is unclear how this impacts babies, the findings could be cause for alarm, said Jonathan Chevrier, the study’s lead author and a research epidemiologist at UC Berkeley’s Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health, wrote SFGate. “Because thyroid hormones in the mom and the children are so crucial to normal growth and development,” he said, “I would say any change in the thyroid hormones is substantially of concern and needs to be looked at really closely.”

The researchers also found that newborn boys whose mothers tested with increased BPA levels during pregnancy revealed signs of an overactive thyroid; newborn girls did not show the same signs, said SFGate. Chevrier said that one explanation could be due to the fact that, in studies, female rats cleared BPA out of their bodies more efficiently than male rats.

Although industry, not unexpectedly, did not find the results concerning, Chevrier said sufficient evidence against BPA proves that consumer should try to avoid products known to contain BPA such as canned food, baby bottles manufactured before the FDA’s ban, and liquid baby formula, said SFGate.

We recently wrote that another recent study linked BPA to miscarriages and birth defects in research involving monkeys and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That study discovered what it described as “compelling” evidence that BPA may negatively affect women’s reproductive systems and lead to chromosomal damage, birth defects, and miscarriages.

The estrogenic hormone mimicker was also recently linked to increased heart risks and behavior problems were linked to tooth fillings containing the chemical, adding to a growing body of evidence that has made these association. Studies have also linked BPA to a wide and growing range of health effects that seem to affect nearly every bodily system: Brain tumors, hormone-sensitive cancers, brain and social behaviors, increased anxiety and depression, brain cell connection interference, interruptions in chemotherapy treatment, increased risks of immune system diseases and disorders, liver function and intestinal problems, and cardiac issues and fat cell confusion and pancreatic issues relating to diabetes.

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