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Children's Health

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BPA Not Linked to Ill Effects in 2 Studies

Findings Conflict With Earlier Studies Suggesting Plastics Chemical Is a Health Hazard
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 19, 2010 -- In two new studies, researchers conclude that the plastics chemical bisphenol A (BPA) is not toxic to the brain or act as a hormone disrupter, altering the age of puberty or reproductive function.

Both studies are published in Toxicological Sciences. One was funded by the plastics industry; the other, by a state university and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Although the plastics industry praises the findings, an environmental expert says the studies -- both conducted on animals -- are flawed and the findings don't undo what she sees as an abundance of evidence suggesting BPA is hazardous.

''Together the two studies provide complementary, corroborative data, and neither found effects of low-dose BPA on the developing brain or behavior," says Steven Hentges, PhD, executive director of the Polycarbonae/BPA Global Group of the American Chemistry Council, the industry group that funded the study looking at neurotoxicity with BPA exposure. Hentges is a co-author on the paper, published online Feb. 17.

Sonya Lunder, MPH, senior analyst with the Environmental Working Group, who has researched BPA and health, counters, "You have to read these findings against all the other work that's been done [suggesting a hazard linked with BPA]."

Just a month ago, the FDA reversed its previous stance finding BPA was safe, calling for more research and offering suggestions on how parents, in particular, can minimize their families' exposure to the chemical. BPA is found in a wide range of products, such as plastic bottles, liners of food cans, feeding cups, and some baby bottles (although several baby bottle manufacturers have stopped using it).

Some experts are concerned that exposure to BPA and its weak estrogen-like effects, especially during critical periods of development, may be linked to a range of health hazards, including behavioral effects, reproductive problems, cancers, heart disease, and diabetes.

BPA and Neurotoxicity Study

In the neurotoxicity study, researchers from WIL Research Laboratories in Murrysvillle, Pa., and colleagues exposed female rats and their litters to dietary concentrations of BPA at different doses from the time of gestation through the 21st day of breastfeeding.

They tested the animals for their auditory startle response, motor activity, learning, and memory by using a water maze, brain and nervous system pathology, and brain measurements.

No adverse effects were noted.

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