A new study conducted by Stanford University revealed that a chemical compound found in heated plastic and dozens of household items and cause miscarriage in pregnant women. This study was presented at the Annual Conference of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), Monday, October 14.
The study reported that pregnant women with higher levels of Bisphenol A (BPA) in their blood can increase the miscarriage risk up to 80 percent. BPA is a very common chemical found in packaging materials such as plastic bottles, storage containers, sun glasses, DVD cases and even in cash register receipts.
Following the previous study that demonstrated the harmful effects of BPA in mice, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned its use for baby milk bottles and cups in July 2012. However, FDA allowed the chemical use in other forms of food storage containers as the current scientific evidence does not suggest human exposure to low levels are unsafe.
BPA is referred by researchers as endocrine-disruptors. It exerts mild hormone-like properties and is associated with health risks linked to infertility, delayed nerve cell development, obesity and diabetes. BPA accumulates in the environment and human tissue and could influence a couple’s success in trying to conceive. The chemical is used to line cans to prevent corrosion and was banned in the European Union and Canada.
This is the first study which showcased the embryo toxic nature of BPA in humans. Researchers investigated 114 pregnant women, who have a clinical history of miscarriage or infertility. Blood samples were collected and measured for levels of BPA and other environmental chemicals. Based on the levels of BPA, these women were divided into four different groups, and tracked until childbirth or termination of pregnancy.
It was observed that, in the group with highest levels of BPA, the chance of miscarriage is 80 percent more compared to the other groups with lower BPA levels in the blood. The study also reported that, BPA was associated not only with miscarriage but also other complications related to child birth like improper neuronal development in neonates.
The presentation at ASRM revealed the reproductive problems associated with other chemical compounds, called Phthalates; generally used in cosmetic products such as nail polishes, and deodorants. It was observed that males with high blood concentrations of Phthalates were less fecund.
Researchers claimed that further studies were required to determine the impact of BPA on miscarriage rates. Pregnant women and men whose partners are trying to conceive should avoid microwaved food in plastic containers, canned food, and leaving water bottles in the sun as these storage containers release higher levels of BPA when heated or exposed to high temperatures.
Dr. Linda Giudice, President of ASRM, said that though the study was limited by sample size, the findings are of critical importance. She recommended pregnant women to avoid or at least limit the exposure to BPA and Phthalate containing products until more comprehensive guidelines regarding the harmful effects these environmental chemicals are published.
Written by: Janet Grace Ortigas