BPA harms unborn babies and infants, study finds

Baby with bottle

Baby with bottle

A new study has shed more light on the dangers of BPA – and unborn and young babies are most at risk, researchers say.

A team of international scientists, including some from Deakin University in Victoria, have discovered a new pathway for bisphenol A (BPA) to spread through the body. The findings have led scientists to call for a review of its usage in Australia.

Researchers found BPA spread through the body via a protein that plays an important role in metabolism, suggesting it may contribute to obesity and diabetes.

BPA is often used to produce plastic products such as baby bottles and food and drink containers. It can leak into the food or drink, particularly when heated, and has been implicated in health problems including breast cancer, reproductive disorders, brain function and inner-ear development.

Deakin Metabolic Research Unit’s Dr Yann Gilbert says present Australian guidelines that claim it is safe to ingest up to fifty micrograms of BPA a day should be reviewed. His team is conducting world-first research into the effects of exposure to BPA and other bisphenol compounds, BPS and BPAF, during embryo formation and development.

Dr Gilbert says unborn babies and infants are most at risk of the effects of BPA because they have not yet developed enzymes that protect older children’s and adults’ bodies. “It is possible that exposure to bisphenols before birth could cause developmental issues that predispose children to obesity and diabetes, which is the focus of our current research,” he says.

“It has also been shown that BPA can accumulate in the placenta and pass on to the embryo. So while the pregnant mother is herself protected by the enzyme, it is her unborn child that is susceptible due to the BPA collecting in and passing through the placenta, leading to potential development issues in the foetus, issues that could carry with the baby throughout its life.

“It is time for Australia to re-evaluate the use of BPA and follow the lead of Europe, the US and Canada where the product is banned.”

Over the past several years, many BPA-free baby products – including these featured on Babyology – have been released to allay parents’ concerns.

Dr Gilbert says while there has been a voluntary move away from using BPA in baby bottles in Australia, the plastics industry has started using other bisphenol compounds. His team will look at the health impacts of these other bisphenols in its research.

The findings of the international study, led by Professor Vincent Laudet at the Institute of Functional Genomics of Lyon, were last month published in The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

(via Deakin University)

Michelle Rose

Michelle Rose

Michelle is a journalist and mum to two girls who are obsessed with dinosaurs, fairies, pirates and princesses in equal measure. She lives in Melbourne's east with her husband, daughters and a giant, untameable labradoodle. Michelle loves all things vegetarian, wine (it's a fruit) and online shopping.

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