BPA, Pregnancy and Fertility: Studies Raise New Concerns

BPA is already banned from baby bottles and sippy cups, but should would-be moms avoid containers made with the chemical too?BPA is already banned from baby bottles and sippy cups, but should would-be moms avoid containers made with the …Pregnant with her second child, Danielle Glickman makes it a priority to stay hydrated...but she also questions whether she's making the right choice, at least in terms of how she consumes water.

"I drink a ton of water-at least 2 liters a day, and it's mostly in plastic bottles!" the New Jersey mom said. "Are plastic bottles really bad?"

Consumers are finding themselves increasingly wary of plastic products thanks to recent studies on the potential dangers of BPA or Bisphenol-A, a chemical found in many plastics as well as canned food containers. Plastics with recycle codes 3 and 7, specifically, may be made with BPA, according to the FDA. (Glickman and other disposable water bottle users may be relieved to learn that popular water brands like Poland Spring and Aquafina use recycle code 1 plastic in their handheld bottles.)

BPA's possible effects on pregnancy and conception efforts have proven especially fertile ground for researchers. Most recently, researchers at Stanford University, the University of California San Francisco and the University of Missouri followed more than 100 pregnant women with a history of miscarriage or infertility. They found that those with the highest levels of BPA in their blood were more likely to suffer miscarriages. Sixty-eight women in the study ultimately had miscarriages while 47 had live births, the Associated Press reported. The study results were presented at a joint meeting of the International Federation of Fertility Societies and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine this month.

In a separate study earlier this year, researchers in Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital found that BPA exposure disrupts egg maturation. They reached their conclusions after studying 352 eggs from a fertility clinic-the eggs were due to be discarded-and exposing them to varying levels of BPA.

Related: 7 surprising places you'll find BPA!

The FDA has previously stated "that the scientific evidence at this time does not suggest that the very low levels of human exposure to BPA through the diet are unsafe," citing findings of its own. In one study noted by the FDA, government researchers found that feeding pregnant rodents large amount of BPA did not result in BPA being detected in rodent fetuses hours later. BPA is the "opposite" of other toxins that can stay in the body for months or years, the FDA said.

Its own research notwithstanding, the FDA did ban the use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups in 2012.

Dr. Steve Behram, an ob/gyn in Rockville, Maryland, said that it's premature, however, to call for a wider ban.

"I think it's appropriate to call for more studies and to use good judgment when using products treated with BPA," he said.

Behram urges a common sense approach for avoiding BPA and offers these tips:

Avoid canned food. "What are you doing eating canned foods during pregnancy?" he asked. "Canned foods may have increased amounts of BPA, but for crying out loud, have fresh food that hasn't been canned. Canned foods are often loaded with sodium and other unhealthy components and are nutritionally not very good for you. Instead, have more fresh foods."

Use microwave-safe containers. "Don't microwave your food in plastic containers. Take an extra few seconds and warm the food in a container designated to be microwave-safe. Heating worsens the problem, so don't heat BPA-containing containers!

Beware of receipts: "Avoid touching the thermally-treated cash register paper which is coated with BPA. Instead, just ask the clerk to put the receipt in your bag or wash your hands after handling thermal paper."

Be careful with ultrasound images too: "I know this sounds crazy, but those cute ultrasound pictures your doctor gives you may be coated with BPA!"

Additionally, the FDA urges consumers to avoid putting hot or boiling liquids in containers made with BPA and to discard bottles with scratches that could lead to the greater release of BPA.

- By Alice Gomstyn

For 15 ways to help prevent infertility, visit BabyZone!

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