Most are aware that BPA toxicity is linked to chronic problems like diabetes, cancer, infertility, and endocrine disruption. New information suggests that babies receive BPA in utero right through mother's food supply!
Worse yet, this early BPA exposure effects baby's testosterone production. The study in male mice whose mothers ate BPA effected foods demonstrated a type of emasculation. The effected male mice were less attractive to the female mice. They showed terrible ability in finding their way out of mazes.
BPA is only now being phased out in certain countries. It's in our food supply via the lining of cans and plastic packaging. While many states are introducing legislation (and winning votes) to rid BPA from baby products, study author Professor Cheryl Rosenfeld implores that this recent evidence should warrant BPA's ban in all food products. Not just baby products and not just baby food.
Food packaging chemical may harm unborn babies
A US study has raised concerns about the use of the chemical BPA in food packaging for pregnant mothers.
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a plasticiser commonly used in tinned foods and other food packaging such as glass jars, baby bottles and water bottles.
It is an endocrine disruptor and although the science on the health effects of BPA in foods is not conclusive, some studies have linked it to a range of illnesses, including cancer, diabetes and infertility.
Concerns have also long been held about exposing babies to BPA through baby food jars and baby bottles, but US researchers say exposure in utero, via the mother's diet, may be even worse.
The study suggests BPA exposure to unborn babies may affect testosterone production.
The study's author, Associate Professor Cheryl Rosenfeld at the University of Missouri, says it is further evidence BPA should be phased out in all food products, not just baby foods.
The researchers fed pregnant mice small amounts of BPA and tested the navigational abilities of male offspring when they became sexually mature.
Associate Professor Rosenfeld says a maze was used to test the mice and the difference between the performance of mice exposed to BPA versus those who were not was significant.
“The males that were exposed to BPA performed at a worse rate than those that were not exposed to BPA and they had a severe delayed ability to find the exit holes that led to their home cage,” she said.
“Even by the end of the seven-day trial period, the BPA-exposed males tended not to pick up on what the most efficient search strategy [was].”
Associate Professor Rosenfeld says the mice exposed to BPA would wander aimlessly around the maze.
She says the BPA-exposed mice were also more anxious.
“We looked at exploratory behaviour too in these males because it's been shown that these males, and also in boys versus girls, males tend to have higher exploratory behaviour,” she said.
“Those that were exposed to BPA exhibited decreased exploratory behaviour or what we would term, ‘anxiety-like behaviours'.”
The researchers hypothesise that these results could be due to interference in testosterone production but Associate Professor Rosenfeld says it could be much more than that.
“The other potential way that BPA might be induced in these effects is by acting on the region of the brain that controls this behaviour and that's the hippocampus,” she said.
“And in animals and humans there's a lot of structural conservation in this area of the brain.”
BPA-exposed male mice were also less sexually attractive to female mice.
Some countries have already banned the use of BPA in baby bottles and some companies have taken the initiative to phase BPA out of their all their products.
But Associate Professor Rosenfeld says her study shows more research needs to be done into the effect of BPA before birth rather than just after birth.
She says there needs to be regulation to make it mandatory for companies to display whether or not their products contain BPA.
The consumer grouch Choice did its own tests on canned foods in Australia last year and found that 33 out of 41 products tested contained BPA.
Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn says the latest study only adds weight to Choice's call for the precautionary principle to be applied and BPA taken out of food packaging in Australia.
“This just adds more weight on that side of the ledger that we have to look at this particular product very carefully,” he said.
“There are other substitutes which are used in terms of the lining food cans. In other countries it's been changed willingly, in many places indeed.”
By Rachel Carbonell