A study allegedly linking prenatal bisphenol A (BPA) exposure to increased fat mass index (FMI) in children has suggested that the common plasticizer “contribute[s] to developmental origins of adiposity.” Lori A. Hoepner, et al., “Bisphenol A and Adiposity in an Inner-City BirthCohort,” Environmental Health Perspectives, May 2016.

Using data from 369 mother-child pairs enrolled in the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health New York City birth cohort, the study authors assessed the urinary BPA of mothers during the third trimester of pregnancy and followed up with their children from birth through age 7.

Their analysis purportedly shows that although “prenatal BPA concentrations were not associated with birth weight,” they were “positively associated” with FMI, body fat percentage and waist circumference (WC) at age 7 years. Upon closer examination, prenatal BPA exposure was significantly associated with increased FMI and WC in girls, but not boys. As the study further explains, “These results suggest prenatal BPA exposure is associated with overall body fat and central adiposity, accounting for height. However, contrary to our hypotheses, we found that maternal urinary BPA concentrations were not associated with birth weight, childhood BMIZ [body mass index z-score] at ages 5 and 7 years, and ΔBMIZ from age 5 to 7 years.”

“The evidence that prenatal BPA exposure is associated with measures of obesity in children may be an important underlying factor in the obesity epidemic,” said study author Andrew Rundle, co-director of the Obesity Prevention Initiative at the Mailman School of Public Health. “Endocrine disrupting chemicals like BPA may alter the baby’s metabolism and how fat cells are formed early in life.” See Mailman School Press Release, May 17, 2016.