pregnant

Women in the early stages of pregnancy who were exposed to high levels of BPA (bisphenol A), a toxic, controversial chemical found in many plastics, experienced an 83 percent greater risk of having miscarriages than women with the lowest levels of exposure, finds new research.

The study was focused on 115 pregnant women in the very early stage of pregnancy—about four weeks in or fewer. The higher the BPA levels in the women’s blood, the greater the risk, found the study: a whopping 68 of the 115 women miscarried. That’s three times the national average miscarriage rate.

However, reports Environmental Health News, the study participants were already considered high risk because they had been treated at a fertility center. But the findings are still strong, said study author, Dr. Ruth Lathi, a Stanford University associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, “Couples suffering from infertility or recurrent miscarriages would be best advised to reduce BPA exposure because it has the potential to adversely affect fetal development.”

The study, which was published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, mirrors similar findings to a Japanese study conducted in 2005 that also found women who miscarried in the first-trimester had at least three times more BPA in their blood than women who did not miscarry.

In the Stanford study, the women were divided into four groups based on the BPA measurements in their blood. The groups were then compared by their miscarriage rates. “The women with the highest exposures had an 83 percent higher risk of miscarriage, while those in the second and third groups had increased risks of 58 percent and 30 percent,” reports EHN.

Most miscarriages do occur within the first seven weeks of pregnancy, but that does not totally discount the connection to the elevated BPA levels.

A source of ongoing controversy, BPA has been linked to reproductive issues along with a number of other health risks. But the FDA insists low-level exposure is safe, despite scientific criticism of the agency’s own research and measures taken to restrict BPA exposure in other countries over health concerns.

BPA is found in a number of common products including the linings of canned foods and soft drinks, certain types of plastic containers and thermal register receipts.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Related on Organic Authority

Pretty Much All Plastic Sucks: ‘BPA-Free’ Alternatives Just as Risky, Study Finds

BPA Exposure Linked To Higher Risk Of Miscarriage, Fertility Trouble

From BPA to Glyphosate: What Are the Risks of Endocrine Disruptors?

Image: Marta Manso