A study presented at the yearly meeting in Boston of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has highlighted the fertility dangers associated with a chemical found in some food and drinks packaging.
Plastics based on Bisphenol A (BPA) are employed in various consumer products including many food and beverage containers. But research has shown that BPA can interfere with couples undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF), and increase the risk of miscarriage.
The research was conducted with 114 pregnant women who had some form of history with infertility or miscarriage – a group viewed as particularly at risk from the impact of BPA. Scientists analysed quantities of BPA in the women’s blood, and found that those with the highest levels had an 80 per cent greater risk of miscarriage than those with the lowest level. Across the study, 68 of the 114 women miscarried.
Dr Linda Giudice, ASRM President, said that while there have been previous studies which looked at the impact of chemicals on those with fertility problems, the findings of this study suggest BPA could have a damaging impact on a far larger group of people.
She said: “These studies extend our observations to the general population and show that these chemicals are a cause for concern to all of us.”
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, one of the authors Dr Ruth Lathi, a reproductive endocrinologist at Stanford University, said: “This is important because miscarriage is a very common occurrence and human exposure to BPA is near-ubiquitous.”
She went on to outline some of the ways people can safeguard themselves from exposure to BPA.
“Avoid anything that involves cooking or warming food in plastic as the chemicals leak out of plastic materials at a higher rate at higher temperatures.“
Even shopping posed a risk, she suggested, because many cash register receipts are coded with resin containing BPA.
“Avoid canned food, avoid cooking or heating plastic and then avoid unnecessary cash register receipts. Those are simple things that don’t cost a lot of money and are easy to do,” said Dr Lathi.
Another study, with researchers from Stanford University, the University of California San Francisco and the University of Missouri looked at 114 women who had gotten positive pregnancy tests at four to five weeks of gestation. The study participants gave blood samples, which were tested for its levels of BPA. It was recorded whether the participants had a successful birth or a miscarriage.
On average, the women with higher BPA levels were more likely to have a miscarriage.
In the UK most beverages are packaged using PET, which contains no BPA.