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Pregnant Women Exposed to BPA tied to Reduced Lung Function in Children

Update Date: Oct 06, 2014 04:06 PM EDT

Bisphenol A (BPA), which is a chemical that can commonly be found in plastics, has been linked to several mental health problems, such as slow development and behavioral issues. Other studies have tied exposure to this chemical to physical problems as well. According to a new study, exposure to BPA during pregnancy can increase children's risk of poor lung function.

In this study, headed by Adam J. Spanier, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, the team examined 398 mother-infant duos. During weeks 16 and 26 of pregnancy, the researchers collected urine samples from the mothers to measure BPA levels. The team also collected urine samples every year from the children until they turned five-years-old to assess their level of exposure.

The team calculated that for every 10-fold increase in the average BPA concentration measured in the mothers' urine samples, there was a 14.2 percent reduction in the rate of predicted FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration), which measures lung function. This relationship was no longer noticeable when the children turned five.

Every 10-fold increase in the mothers' urinary BPA concentration was also tied to a 54.8 percent greater risk of wheezing in the children. More specifically, a 10-fold increase in maternal urinary BPA concentration at week 16 was linked to a 4.27-fold increased risk of persistent wheezing. The children's urinary levels of BPA were not linked to either FEV1 or wheezing.

"We found that prenatal BPA exposure that occurred during early pregnancy was inconsistently associated with diminished lung function, increased odds of wheeze and a persistent wheeze phenotype in young children. ... If future studies confirm that prenatal BPA exposure may be a risk factor for impaired respiratory heath, it may offer another avenue to prevent the development of asthma," the authors concluded according to the press release.

The study was published in JAMA Pediatrics.

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