BPA And Behavior: More Questions Than Answers | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

BPA And Behavior: More Questions Than Answers

When it comes to worries about raising kids in our modern age, the effects of chemicals in the environment are near the top of the list.

Unfortunately for those looking for definitive answers about BPA, the latest study doesn't have them.

Critics of bisphenol A say it can cause health problems by mimicking the hormone estrogen in the body, which could be hazardous for developing bodies. Some jurisdictions have moved to ban it.

So a team of researchers measured BPA, a common additive to some hard plastics and liners for metal cans, in the urine of expectant mothers. Later the team checked BPA in the urine of those women's offspring — at 1, 2 and 3 years of age.

The scientists found BPA in almost every sample. And higher levels of BPA in urine taken from 244 moms during pregnancy were associated with slightly "worse behavior" among 3-year-olds, such as hyperactivity and aggression, especially in girls. The results confirmed the earlier findings for 2-year-olds by many of the same researchers.

BPA exposure after birth wasn't linked to behavioral problems, though, according to the study, which also considered the effect of confounding factors, such as household income.

The bottom line, as the researchers note in the conclusion to their paper, is murky: "The clinical relevance of these findings is unclear at this point." The results were just published online by the journal Pediatrics.

Among the caveats to consider, the study relies on parental reports of their kids behaviors, which aren't always reliable.

And there's the issue of how much BPA actually reached the fetuses. The researchers measured total BPA levels in mothers' urine. Now, that tells you something about how much BPA is in the mothers' diets but what matters most to fetus is how much BPA is in Mom's blood, as my colleague Jon Hamilton observed when we talked about the study this morning.

And a recent study comparing BPA in the urine and the blood found that even among adults with high dietary exposure to BPA and detectable levels of BPA in urine, "concentrations in serum were undetectable in 83 percent of the samples." The finding suggests using maternal urine samples to judge how much BPA a fetus has been exposed to isn't exactly straightforward.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Picasso, Nazis And A Daring Escape In 'My Grandfather's Gallery'

As a little girl, Anne Sinclair knew Pablo Picasso. She talks with NPR's Scott Simon about why she didn't want the master to paint her picture, and her new memoir, My Grandfather's Gallery.
NPR

Syrup Induces Pumpkin-Spiced Fever Dreams

Hugh Merwin, an editor at Grub Street, bought a 63-ounce jug of pumpkin spice syrup and put it in just about everything he ate for four days. As he tells NPR's Scott Simon, it did not go well.
NPR

Texas Gubernatorial Candidates Go The Border To Court Voters

Republicans have won every statewide office in Texas for 20 years, but the growing Hispanic population tends to vote Democrat, and the GOP's survival may depend on recruiting Hispanic supporters.
NPR

Tech Week: Smartphone Privacy, Cyberstalking, Alibaba's Big Debut

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba makes the biggest debut on the NYSE ever. The details, and the other tech stories that piqued our interest, are in this week's roundup.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.