Mothers who are exposed to high amounts of the controversial but highly prevalent chemical bisphenol A (BPA), found in everything from canned foods and plastics to dental products and credit card receipts, have children with an increased risk of wheezing, according to a new study.
The children of mothers who had the highest levels of BPA during pregnancy were twice as likely to wheeze in early childhood than the children of mothers with the lowest BPA levels, said study researcher Dr. Adam Spanier, assistant professor of pediatrics at Pennsylvania State University.
All mothers are likely exposed to BPA during their life and pregnancy, because BPA is present in everyday products, Spanier said. While reducing exposure to BPA has not been studied before, "I would suggest cutting down on canned foods, washing hands well before eating and minimizing the use of some plastics" (including not heating things with them) could help to decrease the BPA exposure, Spanier told MyHealthNewsDaily.
The study was presented yesterday at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies.
Spanier and his colleagues looked at the health information of 367 children, 99 percent of whom were born to mothers with detectable BPA levels in their urine while they were pregnant. The parents reported any wheezing incidents by their children twice a year for three years.
Researchers found that kids' wheezing risk doubled among women with the highest BPA levels during pregnancy, compared with women with the lowest BPA levels, the study said.
The wheezing risk was observed only with high BPA levels during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy, which suggests that there are periods of time during pregnancy where the fetus is more susceptible to outside factors, Spanier said.
"I am not surprised that exposure in the earlier part of pregnancy was the time of vulnerability in this study because a lot of early lung development does occur then," he said.
Wheezing is a burden to the patient and the family, and causes extra doctor visits, missed work and school, Spanier said. Wheezing in early life does not necessarily mean that a child will develop asthma, but some do go on to develop the condition, he added.
More research is needed to fully understand BPA's relationship with wheezing, though past research in animals also suggests a link between the two, Spanier said.
A study presented last year at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology showed that the babies of mice exposed to BPA went on to develop allergic asthma.
BPA, which is used in the production of plastics and epoxy resins, is a chemical of concern to the Food and Drug Administration, and is already banned from use in baby bottles in some states. (Canada has a total ban on the chemical, declaring it a toxic health hazard.)
Past studies have linked the chemical with weigh gain, insulin resistance, prostate cancer and early puberty.
This story was provided by MyHealthNewsDaily, a sister site to LiveScience.