A study led by researchers at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston has revealed that Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that is commonly found in plastic products, increases a woman’s risk of giving birth prematurely by as much as six times.
BPA is an organic synthetic compound used to manufacture items such as DVDs, CDs, water bottles, thermal receipt paper, and the lining of most food cans.
According to WebMD: “More than 90% of us have BPA in our bodies right now. We get most of it by eating foods that have been in containers made with BPA. It’s also possible to pick up BPA through air, dust, and water.”
BPA has already been linked to premature birth in expectant mothers. The researchers have now determined that exposure to BPA can affect women before they even conceive.
The investigation was focused on 364 women at a fertility clinic, including 32 women who gave birth to premature babies. The experts analyzed the urine of the females from before they became pregnant.
In addition to the risk of premature birth associated with BPA, the researchers identified another chemical found in food packaging that produced a similar effect called Phthalates. The team established that this chemical doubled the risk of an early birth in women who had high levels before becoming pregnant.
Study lead author Jennifer Yland said: “Exposure to these chemicals is widespread as they are found in food packaging, consumer products, medical devices, plastic bottles, and receipts.”
It has been determined in previous research that BPA can accumulate in reproductive organs and act as an endocrine disruptor that throws hormones off balance. The compound can cause problems before, during, and after the formation of eggs, and can even cause female infertility in some cases.
WebMD stated: “The FDA maintains that studies using standardized toxicity tests have shown BPA to be safe at the current low levels of human exposure. But based on other evidence – largely from animal studies – the FDA expressed ‘some concern’ about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate glands in fetuses, infants, and young children.”
By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer