Exposure to BPA pre-birth could cause behavior problems later

By Shayna Brouker • Published: January 16th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Parents of toddlers know too well what a toll tantrums take on tranquility at home. Screaming, whining and stubbornness can be typical troubles among the preschool set, especially right before naptime. But what about other behavioral issues like depression, anxiety and hyperactivity? Is there anything a parent can do to help shield their child from these problems?

Maybe not, but a recent study in the journal Pediatrics suggests exposure to a common chemical may play a role. The researchers found a link between exposure to bisphenol A in the womb and behavioral problems in preschoolers.

Bisphenol A, or B-P-A, is a chemical found in many plastic products and even the heat-activated paper used in cash registers.

Researchers recorded B-P-A levels in urine samples taken from 244 pregnant women and three samples from their kids at yearly study visits. After their third birthdays, the kids were given psychological tests and the parents rated their little ones’ behavior before learning their B-P-A levels.

The results showed that moms with higher levels of B-P-A during pregnancy had toddlers with more anxiety, depression and hyperactivity. Girls whose moms had higher B-P-A levels had twice as many counts of anxiety and depression as boys and were even more hyperactive.

While the study showed only association, not cause and effect, it is not the first to suggest that B-P-A could have biological effects on the body. The chemical structure of B-P-A is similar to estrogen, and exposure can cause problems in developing brains and bodies. A past study in mice found that it lowered fertility among males.

But the researchers say there’s no need to go overboard and toss all things plastic from your household. Simply limiting exposure is a start.