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A new study from the University of Virginia suggests BPA, a chemical found in plastic bottles and the lining of cans, affects the behavior of laboratory mice. It also suggests a possible link between BPA and autism.
Scientists say bisphenol-A leaches into food and beverages when plastic bottles are heated or when cans contain highly acidic foods like tomatoes. That could explain why at least 90 percent of Americans have BPA in their bloodstream. At the University of Virginia, a professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics decided to test its effect on laboratory mice
"We just gave the drug to the pregnant mom in her food, we found both an immediate effect on the behavior of the offspring," says Professor Emilie Rissman. "And then when we bred them multiple generations past that initial exposure, we found that some of these behavioral effects persisted."
Mice exposed to Bisphenol A in utero were energetic but not very social, Rissman says.
"They're active, running around the cage by themselves and not sitting and grooming the other mouse or sniffing the other mouse or those kinds of social exchanges," Rissman says.
The study, funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health and a group called Autism Speaks, is published in the journal Endocrinology.