A new study being presented on Monday in Boston suggests that the chemical, bisphenol-A, commonly called BPA, found in the linings of many plastic bottles and canned goods might increase the risk of miscarriage in women or those having difficulty getting pregnant.
While the study is not proof of a definite link to miscarriages, it makes it a plausible culprit in women with fertility issues as well as those with other health issues, says Dr. Linda Giudice, a California biochemist who is president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).
The study is being presented at the groups annual conference in Boston today. Last month, the ASRM and an obstetricians group urged more attention be paid to chemicals and their affects on the environment, as well as the hazard they create for pregnant women.
Research has found that BPA and certain other environmental chemicals have a weak hormone-like affect on some people. Tests have shown that BPA is found in nearly everyone's urine, even though the chemical was removed from baby bottles and many reusable plastic drink bottles several years ago. The FDA is saying BPA is safe as it is being used now in canned goods containers.
Dr. Ruth Lathi, a Stanford University reproductive endocrinologist, says most miscarriages are due to egg or chromosome problems, but a study using mice suggests BPA might influence the risk. Using a federal grant, she and some other researchers studied 115 women, newly pregnant and with a history of miscarriages. Of that number, 68 miscarried, and there were 47 live births.
In the study, the women were divided into four groups, based on their BPA levels, from highest down to the lowest levels present;.Women in the higher level groups had an 80 percent greater risk of miscarriage than those in the lower level groups. One factor playing out in the study was the small number of women in the study.
"It may be that women with higher BPA levels do have other risk factors for miscarriage that might be amplified by BPA," Lathi said. While the results of the study are not definitive, "it's far from reassuring that BPA is safe for some women." she pointed out.
It is nearly impossible to avoid touching or using things that are coated with BPA. Even cash register receipts are sometimes coated with a resin containing the chemical. Don't heat up food in plastic containers in the microwave or leave plastic bottles in the sun.