The chemical bis-phenol A (BPA) has been a point of concern for parents recently because of growing concerns that it may have adverse health consequences, especially in children.

BPA is Everywhere

Part of the problem with BPA is that it is so prevalent in our world. BPA is commonly included in the making of hard clear plastic, especially in popular water bottles. BPA is also used as a protective resin to protect the metal in canned food and beverages.

And, of course, until recently, BPA was used in the manufacturing of some baby bottles, a practice that has recently been discontinued.

The fact that BPA is so commonly used would not be a problem except that it leeches into whatever food or beverage it comes in contact with, entering a person's body when it is consumed. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), BPA was detected in the urine of virtually every person when they did an analysis of the American population.

Endocrine Disruptor

Furthermore, BPA is believed to have biological consequences once it is in our bodies. BPA is an endocrine disruptor, which means is that it inhibits or acts like a hormone (in this case, estrogen), affecting normal physiological processes. Many countries have either banned its use or limit its inclusion in the manufacturing of certain types of plastics.

For a growing child, this could be significantly problematic. Consequently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is taking a closer look at BPA and its potential effects on children.

Researchers are also learning that BPA may have a profound effect on adults, as well, specifically woman who are trying to conceive a child through in vitro fertilization, or IVF.

Effects on Women

The current findings, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, indicate for the first time that exposure to BPA may in fact lower the quality of the eggs that are harvested during IVF procedures. As serum levels of BPA doubled, the quantity of eggs that underwent normal fertilization decreased by 50%.

Previous research has found an inverse relationship between the level of BPA found in a woman's urine and the number of eggs that are harvested for an IVF cycle, while animal models have indicated that BPA can affect the DNA in the eggs of mice.

Doctors' Recommendations

Despite the fact that there is currently a general lack of evidence linking BPA to a woman's reproductive health, some experts suggest that for women planning on going through IVF, it may be useful to take precautionary measures.

This would include avoiding BPA whenever possible, whether through lifestyle choices or changes in their diet. There is even a website called Toxic Matters that is dedicated to informing the public about what sort of substances may be harmful to both our reproductive as well as overall health.

If you have questions or concerns, speak with your doctor. For more information about BPA, visit the website for National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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