CNN is reporting on yet another study that links the exposure of chemicals such as BPA to fertility problems. New research reveals that some common household products could be partly to blame for fertility problems. Scientists affiliated with the American Society of Reproductive Medicine are presenting research linking chemical compounds (BPA & Phthalates) to fertility issues. The work is not nearly enough to prove a solid link, but it adds to the theory that BPA might affect fertility and other aspects of health.
BPA stands for Bisphenol A, a chemical used to make certain plastics and resins that are used in containers. BPA is also used in the coating of metal products, such as food cans, bottle tops and water supply lines, Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. They are used in products such as detergents, beauty products and children’s toys. People are also exposed to phthalates by eating and drinking from containers that contain this compound.
One study looked at 501 couples who were trying to become pregnant. The couples were interviewed, examined and provided urine samples to measure their BPA and phthalate levels. They also kept journals about intercourse, menstrual cycles and pregnancy tests. Researchers found that the men (not the women) with high phthalate concentrations experienced a 20% decline in fertility and took longer to get their partners pregnant than men with lower concentrations. Phthalates are known endocrine disruptors, meaning they interfere with our hormone systems.
In another study, 114 women were asked to give blood samples four or five weeks into their pregnancies. The samples weren’t tested for BPA until after the women gave birth to live babies or after they had a miscarriage if it occurred in the first trimester. Sixty-eight of the pregnancies ended in miscarriages. Researchers concluded that women who had high levels of BPA in their blood were at “significantly increased risk of miscarriage compared to women with the lowest levels.” Unfortunately, researchers could not say why certain women in the study had higher BPA levels because they did not ask whether the women were doing specific things to increase BPA levels.
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There ways to minimize exposure to BPA if expectant parents are worried. Do not leave plastic water bottles in the car, microwaving plastic containers, eating canned foods and touching paper receipts that contain BPA. The FDA also warns against putting very hot or boiling liquid in plastic containers made with BPA if you plan to consume the water. That’s because BPA levels rise in food when containers or products made with the chemical are heated and come in contact with the food. For that reason, the FDA also no longer allows BPA in plastic used to make baby bottles and toddler cups. Other guidelines regarding BPA are to avoid cooking or warming food in plastic because heat helps the chemical leak out. Don’t leave water bottles in the sun, limit use of canned foods and avoid handling cash register receipts, which often are coated with resins that contain BPA.