A new research study conducted by the European Lung Foundation and presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress, reveals that pregnant women exposed to higher levels of the commonly used chemical bisphenol A (BPA) are more likely to have children who suffer with wheezing and poorer lung function.
Among other sources, BPA may be present in the lining of food cans and plastic drink bottles where the chemical has been shown to migrate into the food and drink.
BPA is among the group of chemicals known as phenols, which are known ‘endocrine disruptors’. This means they can interfere with the hormone system and consequently alter many essential body functions, including the respiratory and immune systems.
“When babies are still in the womb, they are especially vulnerable to these substances because they have not yet established the ability to remove toxic substances, and their respiratory and immune systems are still developing.”
-Alicia Abellan, researcher, Barcelona Institute for Global Health
Study methodology overview
Researchers studied 2,685 pairs of mothers and their children who were already taking part in one of eight large European research projects. Levels of the mothers’ exposure to BPA and other phenols were gauged from a urine sample taken during pregnancy. The children’s lung function was measured when they were aged between six and ten years. Questionnaires were also used to determine whether children suffered with wheezing.
Study results overview
The results showed that 79% of the pregnant women had detectable quantities of BPA in their urine. Women with higher levels of BPA were 13% more likely to have children who suffered with wheezing.
Related research on BPA and pregnancy: