More bad news on the BPA front. A new study released yesterday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives indicates that there may be a link between prenatal BPA exposure and aggression in female babies. BPA, or bisphenol A, is an estrogen-like chemical used in many consumer products. This recent study finds that babies, particularly little girls, who are exposed to BPA in the womb tend to be more aggressive and hyperactive than their peers.
The study followed 249 pregnant women, examining the levels of BPA in the mother's bloodstream, and later correlating that to their child's behavior patterns. Researchers found that girls whose mothers had the highest levels of BPA during pregnancy were more aggressive and hyperactive at age 2 than other girls. The correlation was most prominent in babies who were exposed to high levels of BPA early in the mother's pregnancy (around 16 weeks.) Boys appeared unaffected by BPA.
Some experts think this time period may be critical in the development of the baby's brain. Exposure to the estrogen-like BPA may cause increased levels of masculinity in the female brain. Joe Braun of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, a co-author of the study, says he plans to follow children until age 5 because behaviors can change over time.
In the meantime, another of the study's co-authors, Bruce Lanphear, a pediatrician at BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver, says there's already enough evidence to show that pregnant women should reduce their exposure to BPA. A Food and Drug Administration report on the safety of BPA is expected to be finished next month.
Also on MNN:
• Ask Mother Nature: How can I avoid BPA?
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