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Gestational Bisphenol A (BPA) Exposure Linked to Emotional, Behavioral Problems in Young Girls


Gestational exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), used to manufacture many hard plastics, including those used in some food containers, was associated with more behavioral problems at age 3, especially in girls, according to a new study appearing in the November 2011 Pediatrics (published online Oct. 24). Experimental studies in animals have found a link between BPA exposure and alterations in behaviors such as aggression, anxiety, exploration and spatial memory. In addition, previous studies involving children have linked gestational BPA exposure with hyperactivity, aggression, and impaired social cognition in children. 

In the study, “Impact of Early Life Bisphenol A exposure on Behavior and Executive Function in Children,” researchers collected data through the Health Outcomes and Measures of the Environment Study conducted in the Cincinnati metropolitan area. Mothers provided urine samples that were tested for BPA during pregnancy and at birth, and children were annually tested through age 3. Maternal BPA concentrations were similar between the first sample and birth. Children’s BPA levels decreased from ages 1 to 3, but were higher and more variable than their mother’s. Associations between gestational BPA concentrations and behavior/emotional control issues were larger among girls at age 3 compared to boys. There was no association between childhood urinary BPA concentrations and behavioral issues. The study authors conclude that that gestational BPA exposure may impact neurobehavioral function, and that girls are more sensitive to these changes than boys. However, more research is needed.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit