Credit: © Patrick Daxenbichler / Fotolia

Credit: © Patrick Daxenbichler / Fotolia

BPA exposure during pregnancy can cause serious health problems in children

BPA exposure during pregnancy can cause serious health problems in children, according to the latest research from Penn State University.

BPA, or bisphenol A, is an industrial chemical that is used to make certain types of plastics and resins.

According to the new study, exposure to BPA during pregnancy can cause changes to the gut bacteria of the offspring.

In the animal study, the researchers found that BPA exposure during pregnancy can cause serious health problems in children, including chronic inflammation in the intestines and liver. The researchers also noted signs of leaky gut and also a decrease in the diversity of gut bacteria, said airam K.P. Vanamala, associate professor of food sciences, Penn State.

Leaky gut and decreased gut bacteria diversity are considered signs of future chronic disease.

Obesity and inflammation-promoted chronic diseases like colon cancer and type 2 diabetes are increasing not just in America, but worldwide,” said Vanamala. “We know that many types of cancers are inflammation-promoted, like colon cancer. But, we have not understood what causes inflammation in the intestine and liver. We have previously shown that food is a double-edge sword. Some foods can promote inflammation in the intestine, whereas bright-colored fruits and vegetables, like purple potatoes, can suppress intestinal inflammation. This study shows that we also need to think about the toxins in the environment.”

The offspring were not directly exposed to BPA, but were exposed secondhand through milk and the mothers placenta.

Even though the offspring are not directly exposed to BPA, the inflammation still persists for weeks,” said Vanamala. “What we are seeing is that both intestine and liver tissues are damaged and we see that the gut diversity is low, the anti-inflammatory metabolites are low.”

What we are trying to understand is how beneficial compounds can favorably influence gut bacteria and, in turn, help fight chronic diseases, as well as how toxicants in the environment and in the food can negatively influence gut bacteria and, in turn, cause chronic disease,” said Vanamala. “So now that we have seen this environmental toxicant-induced inflammation, we can study the beneficial anti-inflammatory foods, like the purple potato and others, in this human development model, and see how a mother’s health and her levels of toxicants and beneficial compounds will influence the baby’s susceptibility to chronic disease.”

Previous studies have linked BPA exposure to reduced fertility, increased risk of food intolerance in offspring, and autism. 

The BPA exposure during pregnancy can cause serious health problems in children was published in the journal mSystems. 

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1. “Exposure to Chemical during Pregnancy May Cause Health Problems for Offspring.” Penn State University, Penn State University, 8 Nov. 2017,

2. “Perinatal Bisphenol A Exposure Induces Chronic Inflammation in Rabbit Offspring via Modulation of Gut Bacteria and Their Metabolites.” MSystems, American Society for Microbiology Journals, 31 Oct. 2017,
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