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Highest BPA level found in mother's urine linked to infant problems

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Bisphenol A

Case study highlights importance of limiting BPA exposure during pregnancy.

A finding from researchers links BPA (bisphenol-A) exposure during pregnancy to increased muscle tone, tremors, and abnormal movements in the infant of a woman with extremely high levels of the chemical in her urine.

The mother reportedly consumed canned foods and beverages and used microwave to heat food in plastic containers throughout pregnancy. BPA is known to leach into food and has an estrogen like effect.

BPA is the synthetic compound used in the lining of canned goods and in food packaging.

Animal studies show bisphenol-A exposure in early life interferes development of the brain, prostate and breast tissue.

Studies also link adult exposure to bisphenol A to decreased fertility and endometriosis. Maternal exposure to BPA may lead to abnormal behavior in children and wheezing in infants.

The current study was conducted by researcher Sheela Sathyanarayana, MD of Seattle Children's Research Institute and is published online in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Sathyanarayana, pediatrician and environmental health specialist at Seattle Children's and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of medicine, explains it’s important for women to understand the pervasiveness of the chemical and reduce their exposure.

Why it’s important to limit BPA exposure

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The infant in the case study had a normal neurobehavioral exam at birth, but at age one month, there were several abnormalities that were not present at annual follow-up to five years of age.

The mother and infant were part of the Health Outcomes and Measures of the Environment - HOME study that looked at BPA exposure during pregnancy and neurodevelopment.

The woman had the highest level of BPA reported in anyone in the general population and highlights the numerous sources of the chemical. The case study makes it important to educate pregnant woman about reducing exposure to the potentially toxic chemical.

Recommendations include limiting the number of canned foods consumed, including canned infant formula, avoid plastic baby bottles with the #7 on the bottom, avoid microwaving food in plastic, store and store food in glass and ceramic containers. If your do choose to keep food in plastic, ensure the #7, indicating the plastic contains BPA, is not on the bottom.

The study authors say health care providers should educate families about the potential dangers of exposure to BPA. Focus on eating fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, rather than canned and pre-packaged foods.

In the new finding, a woman’s high level of BPA was associated with neurobehavioral problems in her infant, seen at one month of age. The baby had increased muscle tone, abnormal movements and tremors.

Environmental Health Perspectives
"A Case Study of High Prenatal Bisphenol A Exposure and Infant Neonatal Neurobehavior"
Sheela Sathyanarayana, Joe M. Braun, Kimberly Yolton, Stacey Liddy, Bruce P. Lanphear

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons / Edgar181