New Study Challenges Assumptions about BPA and Babies

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is everywhere–it’s a key ingredient in plastics, used in the lining of cans, and countless other applications. Even after it was phased out of baby bottles and sippy cups, researchers have still found levels of BPA in infants. And even though recent comprehensive reviews of BPA research by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Food Safety Authority concluded BPA poses no health risk, even to infants, the presence of BPA in their children’s bodies worries many parents.

While it’s been well established that adults quickly process, metabolize, and excrete BPA from our bodies, there’s been little research done to determine how small children metabolize BPA. Many researchers assumed newborns could not effectively process the chemicals because of their immature livers. But a new study published today in The Journal of Pediatrics examined infant exposure to BPA and determined newborns can quickly chemically alter and rid their bodies of BPA.

The study, conducted by researchers with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, collected two urine samples from 44 full-term babies, one when the babies were between three and six days old and another when they were between seven and 27 days of age. The researchers looked for two forms of BPA, one form of BPA as it appears in consumer products (free BPA) and one form of BPA that’s found once the body metabolizes free BPA (BPA glucuronide). The researchers found no free BPA in any of the urine samples, but found BPA glucuronide in more than 70 percent of the samples.

These findings tell us two things:

  • Most babies are exposed to BPA, and
  • Babies can effectively metabolize BPA and quickly excrete it from the body from their earliest days.

While it’s a small study, it adds an important new component to our understand of how BPA interacts with the body and challenges the current thinking on BPA toxicology. It also bolsters EFSA and FDA’s conclusion that the small amounts of BPA we’re exposed to on a daily basis aren’t a threat to our health.