BPA levels in the mother’s urine were not associated with their children’s asthma. Mothers with higher levels of BPA were actually less likely to have children that developed wheeze.
That finding is surprising, because the only other human study on BPA and respiratory problems did find a link between the mothers’ levels and increased risk of their child wheezing before age 3. In that study, published last year, Penn State researchers measured the mothers’ BPA levels earlier in their pregnancy.
The different outcomes may be because Donohue’s team measured BPA later in fetal development, during the third trimester, Braun said.
BPA also was linked to allergic diseases in mice in a 2003 study by Japan researchers.
Asthma is a chronic disease that occurs when airways are inflamed and constricted, causing shortness of breath. Nearly 25 million Americans have asthma, and more than 3,300 people die of it every year.
While air pollution, pet dander, mold and dust can trigger asthma attacks, it is “poorly understood” what causes the disease in the first place, said Dr. Elizabeth Matsui, a professor at the John Hopkins School of Medicine, in an email. She said exposures to tobacco, pollutants and allergens in the womb and as a young child, combined with genes, appear to be risk factors.
Black and Dominican children – the same study group used in Donohue’s research – living in poor, industrial neighborhoods with a lot of traffic in New York City had increased risk of developing asthma, according to a 2011 study by researchers at Columbia University.
Donohue did not factor in any pollutants but did take into account race, tobacco smoke exposure and family history when calculating the increased risks.
Because it’s the first study of its kind, it’s too early to blame BPA for asthma, Harley said. But the chemical is increasingly linked to more and more children’s health problems.
“This is another study showing an association between health outcomes and early life exposure with BPA,” she said. “Several studies look at children’s behavior, development, thyroid hormones, now an association with asthma. There’s really starting to be accumulation of evidence.”
This article originally ran at Environmental Health News, a news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.