Today in News of Our Horrible Modern World: moms' exposure to the chemical bisphenol-A (found in cans and plastic bottles) during pregnancy appears to increase their daughters' anxiety and hyperactivity at age 3.
The AP reports on a study that tested the urine of 244 pregnant women for BPA. Researchers then had moms score their kids' behavior at age 3 using standard questionnaires. Higher BPA levels were correlated with more anxiety and hyperactivity in girls — for every 10% increase in BPA, the girls scored six points worse on the questionnaire. This wasn't enough to push many of them over into abnormal territory, but lead study author Joe Braun says "these subtle shifts can actually have very dramatic implications at the population level."
The study has some limitations. One critic points out that it didn't look at moms' eating habits — maybe moms who consumed a lot of BPA from canned foods had less-healthy diets in general. It's also not clear why the additive appeared to affect only girls. Braun speculated that prenatal exposure to BPA might "masculinize" girls' brains, but this is just a theory at this point. For now, BPA remains yet another of those chemicals that are probably maybe a little bad for you but scientists don't really know how or why. Joy Hatch of Greenbabyguide tells HuffPo that freaking out probably isn't productive: "Neurosis and anxiety about BPA aren't healthy, but ignorance isn't either. Awareness is the middle ground that is most helpful for new parents." And she confesses that she, too, sometimes reaches for the can opener: "Honestly, I have to admit that I don't really have time to roast a whole pumpkin every time."
BPA In Pregnant Women Might Affect Kids' Behavior [AP, via Huffington Post]
BPA During Pregnancy May Impact Daughters' Behavior, New Study Shows [Huffington Post]
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