Exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) during pregnancy may cause oxidative stress that increases the child’s risk for serious health problems, such as diabetes or heart disease, as an adult, according to data published in Endocrinology.
“This study provides the first evidence that BPA exposure during pregnancy can induce a specific type of oxidative stress known as nitrosative stress in both the mother and offspring,” study researcher Vasantha Padmanabhan, MS, PhD, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said in a press release.
“Oxidative stress is associated with insulin resistance and inflammation, which are risk factors for diabetes and other metabolic disorders as well as cardiovascular disease.”
To evaluate the effects of BPA exposure during pregnancy, Dr. Padmanabhan and colleagues drew blood from pregnant women during their first trimester to measure BPA levels. They also took blood samples from umbilical cords after infants were delivered to measure the amount of chemical byproducts created by oxidative stress.
Twenty-four mother and infant pairs were included in the study. Mothers were divided into two groups: those who had higher levels of BPA in their blood and those who had lower levels.
Results indicated that signs of oxidative stress caused by overexposure to nitric oxide-derived free radicals were present in mothers with greater BPA exposure and their infants. Those included in the study had greater amounts of byproducts caused by this type of oxidative damage in their blood, according to information in the release.
The researchers also assessed BPA’s effects on pregnancy in several animals, including sheep, rats and mice. The animals were fed diets containing high or low doses of the chemical. Oxidative stress on mothers and their offspring were analyzed using blood samples. Data supported the results from the study in the human mother and infant pairs.
“Whether or not BPA is harmful to human health has been vigorously debated,” Dr. Padmanabhan said. “These findings demonstrate that more studies like this one are needed to determine the disease risk of exposure to BPA. In the interim, these results indicate that pregnant women should minimize their exposure to BPA to safeguard their babies and themselves from oxidant injury.”