Despite scientific evidence that it disrupts the human endocrine system, BPA continues to be a widely used chemical in the U.S.–one that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to maintain is safe for consumers and therefore has not banned. While it is at least now prohibited in the manufacturing of baby bottles, it has been detected in baby teething rings and other items babies and children may put inside their mouths. Additionally, as we have reported earlier, it can still be found in some dental products and inside food containers such as canned goods and plastic beverage bottles–as well as in plastic tubing and equipment used in food production (including organic milk) and in hospital equipment and medical products.
If the FDA says it is safe, what is the problem? As we have reported for a number of years now, there have been many hundreds of original scientific studies and replication studies linking BPA to a variety of serious health outcomes. (See a few of some recent ones here: a, b, c, d)
Now a new animal study has demonstrated that short-term, early exposure to the endocrine disrupting chemical BPA–such as from hospital and medical equipment used during the birthing process and in newborn care settings–may pose a risk for babies to cardiac problems.
This new study documents the elevated risk short-term BPA exposure, for a period of 15 minutes, may have in pediatric intensive care settings.*
*The potential impact from even a short-term, 15-minute exposure is relevant given that many medical devices and hospital equipment contain BPA.
“Epidemiological studies find BPA exposure in adults correlate with adverse cardiovascular events, ranging from abnormal heart beats, or arrhythmias, and angina, chest pain, to coronary artery disease, the narrowing of the arteries, commonly referred to atherosclerosis — the leading cause of death in the United Sates. Now, based on a study using neonatal rat heart cells, researchers find that the immature heart may respond to BPA in a similar fashion — with slower heart rates, irregular heart rhythms and calcium instabilities.”
Importance of this study:
“Current research explores the impact endocrine disruptors, specifically BPA, have on adults and their cardiovascular and kidney function. We know that once this chemical enters the body, it can be bioactive and therefore can influence how heart cells function. This is the first study to look at the impact BPA exposure can have on heart cells that are still developing.”
-Nikki Gillum Posnack, Ph.D., study author and assistant professor at Children’s National Heart Institute and the George Washington University*
Real-world implications of the findings:
As stated earlier, BPA can commonly be found in medical devices and hospital equipment. Babies who are exposed to BPA in the hospital setting may be at increased risk for cardiac problems.
“We’re investigating whether these hospital-based exposures may cause unintended effects on cardiac function and looking at ways to mitigate chemical exposure. We hope this preliminary research incentivizes the development of alternative products by medical device manufacturers and encourages the research community to study the impact of plastics on sensitive patient populations.”
–Nikki Gillum Posnack, Ph.D., study author and assistant professor at Children’s National Heart Institute and the George Washington University*
*Dr. Posnack’s ongoing research examines the impact environmental influences — including BPA and other endocrine disruptors — have on cardiac function
Journal Reference: Manelle Ramadan, Meredith Sherman, Rafael Jaimes, Ashika Chaluvadi, Luther Swift, Nikki Gillum Posnack. Disruption of neonatal cardiomyocyte physiology following exposure to bisphenol-a. Scientific Reports, 2018; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-25719-8