BPA Exposure During Pregnancy Affects Fertility in Children

Women who are exposed to bisphenol A (BPA) during pregnancy may give birth to female children who are at risk of fertility problems later in life. Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have found that exposure to BPA during pregnancy can cause permanent abnormalities in the uterus of female offspring.

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BPA is a chemical made in the production of polycarbonated plastics and epoxy resins that are found in baby bottles, plastic containers, the lining of food and beverage cans and cartons, and in other common products. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences notes that the main route of exposure to BPA is through food and beverages.

BPA has been much in the news recently as investigations uncover more and more about its potential for negatively impacting health, especially in the realm of reproductive health. This chemical has an impact on male and female reproduction because it is an endocrine-disrupting chemical.

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This latest study by Yale researchers adds to the growing volume of evidence. The investigators, led by Hugh S. Taylor, MD, professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, studied two groups of mice: one exposed to BPA as a fetus during pregnancy and the other exposed to a placebo. When they examined the genes and DNA changes in the uterus, they found that the mice exposed to BPA as a fetus had a hyperresponse to estrogens as adults, indicating that their genes were permanently programmed to respond excessively to estrogen.

Taylor and his team noted that “The DNA in the uterus was modified by loss of methyl groups so that it responded abnormally in adulthood.” This study is the first to show that exposure to BPA permanently affects sensitivity to estrogen.

Thus it appears that BPA exposure during pregnancy may have lifetime implications in terms of fertility for female children. Taylor explained that “What our mothers were exposed to in pregnancy may influence the rest of our lives,” a statement that brings back memories of how DES (diethylstilbestrol) exposure during pregnancy was found to impact the reproductive health of offspring.

SOURCES:
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Yale School of Medicine, news release Mar. 8, 2010

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