Bisphenol-A, a chemical used to make containers more flexible, may be particularly problematic for autistic kids, according to a new study from Rowan University School and Osteopathic Medicine and Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
"It has been suspected for a lot of years that BPA is involved in autism, but there was no direct evidence," said T. Peter Stein, of RowanSOM and the study's lead author. "We've shown there is a link. The metabolism of BPA is different in some children with autism than it is in otherwise healthy children."
Researchers found the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) has a harsher impact on the brains of autistic kids because they can’t metabolize it as well as others.
"Other studies involving rodent data have shown that BPA functions as an endocrine disruptor, but ours is the first to show this in humans and the first to associate it to autism," Stein said to Medical Xpress. "The observations show that for some children there was a relationship between intermediary metabolism, the ability to conjugate BPA and symptoms of autism."
BPA is known as a plasticizer found in disposable plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and even supermarket receipts. BPA is an endocrine disruptor that’s been linked to breast cancer, infertility, problems with fetal development, and a host of other health problems. Researchers aren’t saying the chemical is causing the disorder—this would require much more research and likely funding from FDA and NIH.
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“The key point is that the study seems to link BPA to autism and creates an open area for further research,” Stein said. “One implication of our study is that there might be a benefit to reducing BPA exposure for pregnant women and for children with autism.”
That being said, researchers recently found BPA substitutes like PLA and BPS may also be endocrine disruptors. According to a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, BPS may cause an irregular heartbeat in lab rats. It may also stimulate human breast cancer cells more than BPA—and in a recent study on zebrafish, BPS disrupted prenatal brain development. A 2011 study on PLA found the chemical showed some estrogenic activity.
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