BPA exposure during pregnancy could increase child asthma risk

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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Researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have uncovered evidence that BPA exposure during pregnancy could increase a child’s chances of asthma, found in a study of mice. Scientists found higher levels of inflammation leading to asthma and allergy in offspring of mothers exposed to BPA.

Bisphenol A (BPA) has been under scrutiny by the FDA for its potential health risks. A recent statement was issued by the FDA about health concerns from the possible effects on the “brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and young children." Now the chemical used to make food packaging, water bottles, and a variety of consumer goods is linked to asthma, discovered when researchers examined the offspring of mice exposed to BPA.

Lead study author associate professor Terumi Midoro-Horiuti says, "We gave BPA in drinking water starting a week before pregnancy, at levels calculated to produce a body concentration that was the same as that in a human mother, and continued on through the pregnancy and lactation periods.”

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The scientists then exposed the mice to an asthma “trigger” beginning four days after birth. They used ovalbumin, the main protein in egg white, starting with an injection, then daily respiratory doses. UTMB professor Randall Goldblum, who helped author the paper explains, "What we were looking for is the asthma response to a challenge, something like what might happen if you had asthma and got pollen in your nose or lungs, you might have an asthma attack." They found all of the markers of asthma in the offspring whose mothers were exposed to BPA that was more significant compared to the mice whose mothers were protected from Bisphenol A.

Midoro-Horiuti says it shouldn’t be difficult to study the effect of BPA on humans. Bisphenol A is an environmental estrogen that when consumed can mimic the hormone and produce abnormal signaling in the body that could lead to asthma and allergies.

“We also need to look at doing more epidemiological studies directly in humans, which is possible because BPA is so prevalent in the environment — all of us are already loaded with it to a varying extent.” The scientist says it should be possible to study human children to find out whether more exposure to BPA leads to asthma. The new study found that BPA exposure during pregnancy could increase the chances of a child developing asthma, that currently affects 7 million children according to the CDC.

doi:10.1289/ehp.0901259
Free: PDF

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