Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a chemical form of synthetic estrogen used in countless commonly used household items including water bottles, plastic food containers, food packages, canned goods and more. In all about 6 billion pounds of the chemical are produced around the world each year, amounting to $6 billion in sales.
New research has revealed that BPA may make infant girls more aggressive by “masculinizing” their brains.
The chemical, which helps harden polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resin, has been linked to serious human health conditions even at low levels to which Americans are commonly exposed.
“In laboratory tests, trace BPA exposure has been shown to disrupt the endocrine system and trigger a wide variety of disorders, including chromosomal and reproductive system abnormalities, impaired brain and neurological functions, cancer, cardiovascular system damage, adult-onset diabetes, early puberty, obesity and resistance to chemotherapy,” according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
Now, a new study has revealed another serious risk of BPA – the potential to negatively impact behavior in young children.
BPA May Alter Your Toddler’s Behavior
Exposure to BPA in utero could lead to increased aggressive behavior when those babies become toddlers. The study, the first of its kind to research the effect of BPA on children’s behavior, found that children with exposure to the highest levels of BPA before the 16th week in pregnancy had much higher scores on tests for aggression — similar to those typically found in boys — than girls with less exposure.
Since BPA is a synthetic form of estrogen, it’s capable of mimicking the effect of estrogen in the human body. During early pregnancy, estrogen is important in the development of the male brain, and researchers suggested that BPA might make the female brain more masculine.
“In the developing brain, timing is everything,” neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain, told USA Today. “I’m worried that tiny amounts of this stuff, given at just the wrong time, could partly masculinize the female brain.”
Previous studies have also found more reasons to avoid BPA during pregnancy, childhood and adulthood, including:
- Developmental problems in fetuses and infants
- Early puberty
- Genital deformities
- Down’s syndrome
- Disrupted reproductive cycles
- Structural damage to the brain
- Increased cancer rates in certain organs and cell lines
How are You Exposed to BPA?
BPA is common in plastic bottles (including baby bottles), but that is far from the only way you can be exposed. BPA is also widely used in:
- Plastic gallon milk bottles
- Plastic microwavable plates, ovenware, and utensils
- Tooth sealants
- Plastic drinking glasses
- Food cans, soda cans, infant formula cans, etc. (as most have plastic lining in the cans)
- Baby toys, bottles, pacifiers, and sippy cups
The problem is that BPA can leach out of these products during everyday use, contaminating your food and water and causing serious health problems.
BPA is so widely used that it may be nearly impossible to avoid exposure entirely, however you can greatly reduce your exposure by avoiding BPA-containing products as much as possible, including one of the biggest BPA predators: plastic water bottles.
Plastic containing BPA may be called:
11 Tips to Significantly Reduce Your Exposure to BPA
Almost everyone has the chemical BPA in their body right now.
“Widespread and continuous exposure to BPA, primarily through food but also through drinking water, dental sealants, dermal exposure, and inhalation of household dusts, is evident from the presence of detectable levels of BPA in more than 90% of the US population” researchers wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Given the confirmed health risks of this ubiquitous chemical, even at low-level exposure, it’s important that you take steps to reduce exposure to yourself and to your family. Fortunately, the steps are simple and easy to incorporate into your lifestyle:
- Avoid most disposable plastic water bottles. Instead, bottle your own water (in glass or BPA-free plastic) from filtered tap.
- Buy your own personal reusable water bottle made of HDPE (high density polyethylene) plastic, which is BPA-free!
- Purchase glass baby bottles instead of plastic.
- Buy milk and juice in glass containers (or be certain the plastic containers state “polyethylene” with #1, #2, or #4 recycling symboles or “polypropylene #5”).
- Use baby bottles and sippy cups made of polyethylene plastic (#1, #2, #4 recycling symbols) or polypropylene (#5) (these are usually colored, not clear)
- Replace plastic food and drink containers and utensils with glass, ceramic or metal varieties.
- Avoid using canned foods (as they mostly have plastic linings) or foods wrapped in plastic.
- Avoid soda cans (as they mostly have plastic lining). If you drink soda, choose the glass bottles instead.
- Don’t let children put plastic toys in their mouths, or give them natural fabric toys instead of plastic ones.
- Be careful with BPA-containing plastics, if you choose to use them. This means not exposing them to heat (microwave, dishwasher) or harsh detergents (bleach, etc.), throwing them away if they’re scratched or worn, and not letting food or beverages sit in the containers for too long — all of which increases the amount of BPA that may leach into your food.
- Dental sealant may leach BPA. Although this is being debated, you may want to avoid dental sealants on your children’s baby teeth, or ask your dentist if the sealant is BPA-free.
Again, you may not be able to avoid BPA entirely, but by taking these precautions you can ensure that you and your family are leading as pure and toxin-free a life as possible.