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New Research On BPA Highlights Hidden Dangers

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Recently, there’s been some research suggesting that many common chemicals cause more harm than we know, and create damage that may be passed on generation to generation—causing harm not just to ourselves, but our children and beyond.

One of the most widespread and common endocrine-disrupting chemicals is bisphenol-A, or “BPA,” as it is more commonly known. It is found in the of blood more than 90% of Americans. And BPA is ubiquitous—found in everything from canned food to plastic containers to A.T.M. receipts. It was even used in baby bottles and children's drinking cups until the FDA banned the practice earlier this year due to "concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children."

Now research suggests that this chemical may not only affect the people exposed to it, but also their children, and their children's children. This news sends shivers down my spine, as it corroborates what many of us have suspected all along: that there are long-term effects to chemical exposure that we are just beginning to understand. In the peer-reviewed journal, Endocrinology, a study was published showing that even low doses of BPA can have transgenerational effects. In the study, pregnant mice were exposed to BPA in doses that would roughly be what humans typically receive through everyday exposure. The results showed that the mice's offspring were less sociable (using measurements similar to those assessing autism in people), and that these changes were evident for the next three generations. The study stated that BPA affected the mice’s “brain organization and behavior” and that even “exposure to a low dose of BPA, only during gestation, has immediate and long-lasting, transgenerational effects on mRNA in brain and social behaviors.”

The New York Times, which reported on the findings, stated that, “BPA seemed to interfere with the way the animals processed hormones like oxytocin and vasopressin, which affect trust and warm feelings. And while mice are not humans, research on mouse behavior is a standard way to evaluate new drugs or to measure the impact of chemicals.”

“It’s scary,” said Jennifer T. Wolstenholme, the lead author of the report. She told the Times that behaviors in BPA-exposed mice and their descendants may parallel autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit disorder in humans.

Like many new moms, I have scrutinized every product that could come in contact with my babies. But when findings like these get on my radar, I resolve to be even more careful and vigilant with my choices. It's the only way I know how we can all make a small difference. I tell folks, vote with your pocketbooks. Support those companies that are making cleaner products and doing the responsible thing by eliminating these unnecessary chemicals. That’s something that businesses hear loud and clear.

What I know for sure is that we can't wait for the chemical companies to do the right thing. We have to take matters in our own hands. As evidence continues to mount and research continues to validate these alarming findings, I’m hoping that consumers will become more aware and demand more changes from manufacturers, and from their government representatives, both at home and in Washington.

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