New research shows prenatal exposure to the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) may limit the child's ability to breathe.
A chemical that is used in plastics and canned foods, BPA is "known for its potential estrogen-disrupting effects," as well as its neurodevelopmental and endocrine effects, according to Dr. Adam J. Spanier, the study's author.
The study examined the presence of BPA in the urine samples of 398 mothers and their infants. Researchers found that every tenfold increase in a mother's average concentration of BPA led to a 14% decrease in the child's lung capacity until reaching four years old. These same results were not present at age five. In other words, the effect of BPA exposure may disappear over time, researchers said.
Still, researchers concluded that with every tenfold increase in a mother's average BPA concentration, the child is over four times more likely to experience persistent wheezing until age five.
Though the exact cause of exposure was not part of the study's focus, Dr. Spanier says there is other research that also suggests BPA's negative effect on the cells that govern lung capacity.
Consumers would benefit from a safer chemical management system at the national level because BPA is found in so many products, he said.
In the past few years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reconsidered their stance on BPA after research discovered risks for heart disease and diabetes. They later banned BPA from some baby products. Currently, the agency says BPA is safe at its current levels in foods and doesn't pose a health risk to consumers.