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Early life exposure to the chemical compound BPA may increase the risk for childhood obesity

Thursday, October 3th, 2013

Early life exposure to the chemical compound BPA may increase the risk for childhood obesity

A new study provides some evidence for an association between BPA (Bisphenol A) exposure during pregnancy and obesity-related outcomes in childhood (at 4 years of age), but not earlier in infancy (from birth to 14 months of life). Dania Valvi, first author of the article and CREAL researcher, adds that “26% of the 402 children analyzed were rapid growers in the first 6 months of life, 25% were overweight at 14 months, and 21% were overweight at 4 years of age.

Valvi adds “almost all mothers were exposed to low levels of BPA during pregnancy, similar to what it has been found in other populations”. BPA was shown to increase slightly the body mass index and the waist circumference of the child at age 4 years. Early growth patterns are important determinants of a person’s risk of obesity later in childhood and adult life.”

In this study, published in the journal Epidemiology, BPA concentrations were measured in two spot-urine samples collected in the 1st and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy from mothers of the INMA-Sabadell birth cohort study. BPA is a chemical compound used primarily in the manufacture of plastics and food packaging materials. Many animal studies suggest that prenatal BPA exposure induces offspring weight gain, but these effects remain largely unexplored in humans. The INMA study is one of the first and largest studies to exam this.

The authors highlight that “because BPA is a chemical that is very quickly metabolized and eliminated from the human body, it is difficult to get a good measure of longer-term exposure (longer than a few hours) based on only two urine samples. Therefore, these results should be interpreted with caution.”

Now the research team of CREAL, centre of ISGlobal alliance, is studying “whether early-life exposure to other chemicals substances, such as phthalates that are widely used in the manufacture of plastics, cosmetics and personal care products, may also increase the risk for childhood obesity”.

Reference: Valvi D, Casas M, Méndez MA, Ballesteros-Gomez A, Luque N, Rubio S, Sunyer J, Vrijheid M. Prenatal Bisphenol A Urine Concentrations and Early Rapid Growth and Overweight Risk in the Offspring. Epidemiology 2013.


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