Bisphenol-A (BPA) has been the subject of much study lately. This industrial compound is in the urine of almost all Americans and it’s nearly impossible to avoid. It lines the cans of canned foods, is part of plastic wrap and many containers made of plastic, and is even on cash register receipts. The chemical produces an estrogen-like effect in babies and young children, leading to a ban of BPA in the manufacture of baby bottles and sippy cups. The US Food and Drug Administration has declared the chemical safe as it’s used today but a new study suggests a link between BPA and miscarriage.
In the study, Dr. Ruth Lathi, a reproductive endocrinologist at Stanford University, and her research team monitored the pregnancies of 115 women in the early stage of pregnancy. The women were similar in age and other factors, including a history of miscarriage or infertility.
Blood samples were taken at the time the women discovered their pregnancies were tested for BPA levels. Based on this finding, the women were categorized into four separate groups and their pregnancies were followed. Of the 115 member study group, 68 participants had miscarriages while the remaining 47 delivered live babies.
When pregnancy outcomes were compared with BPA in blood samples, the women in the group for highest BPA exposure were found to be 80 percent more likely to miscarry than those in the group with the lowest level of exposure. Since the study was small, there is no established methodology for proving absolutely a link between BPA and miscarriage but Lathi suggests the presence of BPA in a woman’s bloodstream may amplify other underlying risk factors. Further study on a larger group of women would be required to strengthen the findings.
According to Lathi, most miscarriages are caused by problems of the egg or chromosomes. A study of mice suggested a link between BPA exposure and miscarriage. Lathi describes her study on the 115 women as no cause for alarm but “far from reassuring that BPA is safe” for women prone to miscarriage.
It’s impossible to avoid BPA exposure completely but minimizing it can be done:
- Avoid canned foods (or choose cans that are marked BPA free).
- Don’t cook or heat foods up in plastic wrap or plastic containers, even when microwaving.
- Keep plastic bottles of water and other beverages out of the sun to minimize the leaching of BPA from the bottle into the beverage.
- Look for and avoid recycle codes 3 and 7, which indicate BPA can or might be present in the container.
- Avoid cash register receipts as they may be coated with BPA-laced resins.
Lathi’s study was presented to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) at its annual conference in Boston on October 14. Last month, the ASRM joined forces with a professional society of obstetricians to urge the medical and industrial communities to give more attention to the link between environmental chemicals and their danger to pregnant women.
- ASRM Office of Public Affairs. "Effects of BPA and Phthalates on Conception and Pregnancy." American Society for Reproductive Medicine. 14 Oct 2013. Web. 2 Nov 2013.
- "Bisphenol A (BPA)." National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. 18 July 2013. Web. 2 Nov 2013.