A new animal study links bisphenol-A (BPA) exposure in females in utero with reproductive problems later in life, including abnormal egg development.
“All the eggs that a female is going to have in her lifetime are formed before birth,” says researcher Catherine VandeVoort of University of California, Davis. “Anything that disrupts that process is going to have an impact later in life.”
Impaired Follicles and Division
For the study (which will be published next week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), scientists put fetal monkeys in two groups. A control group remained unexposed to BPA while another group was exposed to the chemical through daily food during second or third trimesters or through an implant that administered constant, low doses of BPA.
The eggs of fetuses exposed to BPA had difficulty forming follicles, which surround eggs during development. Being unprotected in this manner often leads to eggs dying before maturation, according to VandeVoort.
Other abnormalities seen in the eggs were signs that they would carry too many chromosomes from being unable to divide during development, leading to miscarriages or disorders like Down Syndrome.
Closest yet to Human Study, Effects
Researchers don’t test the effects BPA on people, but because the latest research was conducted on monkeys, who have similar reproductive systems to ours, scientists prize the new results. “This is the closest we can get to humans,” says Tufts University professor Dr. Ana Soto.
Because the monkeys were not raised in the study to a reproductive age, the researchers remain unsure what would come of the egg abnormalities over time and during reproductive processes. They do suspect, however, that it would result in:
- Birth defects
- Reduced pool of eggs
This isn’t the first study to link BPA to fertility problems. The chemical has also been tied to adversely affecting male genital development and subsequently targeting fertility rates. The study examined the effect of BPA on Anogenital distance – the distance between the genitalia and the anus, and biologically very important. AGD has been linked to fertility in males, making the affect of BPA on the male reproductive system quite significant.
And while BPA is slowly being replaced with a more toxic substance known as BPS chemical, BPA is still used widely today. Found in a multitude of products, food, and even paper money, BPA has also been linked to the following conditions:
- Breast cancer
- Feminization of boys
- Accelerated maturation in girls
- Depression and hyperactivity in young girls from BPA-exposed mothers
To begin naturally reversing the effects of BPA exposure, donate or throw away plastic food and drink containers in favor of reusable, stainless steel varieties and avoid packaged foods that come in cans or plastic.