A recent study has reportedly claimed that prenatal exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) could affect “behavioral and emotional regulation” in girls ages 3 and younger. Joe Braun, et al., “Impact of Early-Life Bisphenol A Exposure on Behavior and Executive Function in Children,” Pediatrics, October 2011. The results appear to confirm earlier research led by Harvard School of Public Health researcher Joe Braun that was covered in Issue 322 of this Update.

Using a prospective birth cohort of 244 mothers and their 3-year-old children, the study authors measured gestational BPA exposure at 16 and 26 weeks and birth, as well as childhood exposure at 1, 2 and 3 years of age. Although they detected BPA in more than 97 percent of gestational and childhood urine samples, researchers also found that, especially among girls, “each 10-fold increase in gestational BPA concentrations was associated with more anxious and depressed behavior… and poorer emotional control and inhibition.”  

“The results of this study suggest that gestational BPA exposure might be associated with anxious, depressive, and hyperactive behaviors related to impaired behavioral regulation at 3 years of age,” concluded the study. “This pattern was more pronounced for girls, which suggests that they might be more vulnerable to gestational BPA exposure than boys.”

Meanwhile, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) has disputed the findings, drawing attention to “significant” design flaws and the study’s own reservations about its clinical relevance. “The researchers themselves acknowledge that it had statistical deficiencies, including its small sample size and the potential for the results being due to chance alone,” stated an October 24, 2011, ACC press release. “Parents and consumers need information about actual, real-world safety. Recent, robust research funded by the EPA and conducted by scientists at the government’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, CDC and FDA do not support the findings of this study.”