As if you don't have enough things to worry about when you're pregnant, now there's another one to add to the list! Pregnant women are being warned to avoid eating canned foods and foods microwaved in plastic containers, as well as drinking from water bottles left out in the sun, because according to new findings from Stanford University, high levels of BPA (short for bisphenol-A), a chemical in many plastics and canned food linings, can increase the risk of miscarriage in women who are already prone to miscarriages, or otherwise have had trouble getting pregnant (approximately 500,000 miscarriages occur a year within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy).
The findings—which were presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine's annual conference in Boston—came from researchers who studied 115 newly pregnant women with a history of infertility or miscarriage. They analyzed blood samples from the early stages of when the women were discovered to be pregnant and divided them into four groups based on BPA levels. Women in the top quarter had an 80 percent greater risk of miscarriage compared to those in the bottom group, even though they were similar in age and other factors. Most miscarriages are due to egg or chromosome issues and another study conducted on mice suggested BPA might influence that risk.
While researchers agree that the small study is not enough to prove a direct link, they say it adds to the "biological plausibility" that BPA might affect fertility and other aspects of health. BPA, which has already been removed from baby bottles, is impossible to avoid, but they advised pregnant women to avoid cooking or warming foods in plastic containers, as chemicals leak far more quickly at higher temperatures, avoid letting plastic bottles of drinks get warm in the sun (studies show that levels of BPA increase by about 1000-fold in the water of a bottle that has been sitting in the sun), and handling cash register receipts, which often are coated with resins that contain BPA. The same advice was issued to men whose partners are trying to conceive, after separate research found that the presence of similar chemicals found in the same plastics appeared to reduce male fertility by 20 percent.
While there's no need for widespread panic, it is food for thought. If they've already removed BPA from baby bottles and many children's toys, then why not limit any BPA-exposure while you're pregnant too? Better safe than sorry when you're talking about your future baby, right? For more on BPA-related news and it's possible links to other dangers, read this, this and this.
TELL US: Will you try to go BPA-free after hearing about this study?
Image of water bottles courtesy of Shutterstock.