Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers say that while a large majority of newborns are exposed in their earliest days to bisphenol A (BPA), a much-studied chemical used in plastics and in food and soda can linings, they can chemically alter and rid their bodies of it.
The findings, published April 23 in The Journal of Pediatrics, challenge the current thinking on BPA toxicology. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that more than 92 percent of Americans ages 6 and older have BPA in their bodies, most likely through the consumption of food stored in packaging made from it. No one had studied levels in healthy newborns, but it was assumed that their immature livers would have a difficult time processing the chemical and that could mean increased health risks due to BPA.
BPA mimics the sex hormone estrogen in the body and may have developmental effects on the brain, lung and reproductive organs, and has been associated with diabetes and some cancers. It is currently used in many plastics in the United States, but was banned in baby bottles and sippy cups in 2012 by the Food and Drug Administration for fear of what the chemical could do to the very young. But BPA is still in wide use because the FDA has repeatedly concluded that it is safe at the current levels occurring in foods.
“Even though we’ve removed BPA from bottles, this work shows infants are still exposed to it,” says study leader Dr. Rebecca Massa Nachman a post-doctoral fellow in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences. “But the good news is that our study also shows healthy newborns are better able to handle that exposure than we thought.”
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