The biggest concerns about bisphenol-A revolve around what it might be doing to young children. This is because A) Their body is more vulnerable to chemical alterations, since many systems are still in development, and B) They are exposed to BPA at rates much higher than adults.
BPA exposure in children
Babies under the age of two can have levels of BPA in their blood that are 11-times higher than that of adults exposed to the same amount. (Edinton & Ritter, 2008) This is probably because babies are exposed to more than 12-times as much BPA per pound of body weight as adults are, says Sonya Lunder of the Environmental Working Group. Their immature livers also have a tougher time clearing the chemical from their body.
BPA’s effects on children
Children are susceptible to all the same health effects discussed on the previous page. But research has also turned up some ways in which children are uniquely affected by BPA:
BPA & its effects on a child’s behavior
A number of studies have linked higher BPA levels to alterations in a child’s behavior, especially when this exposure occurs prenatally. BPA seems to make rats more aggressive and hyperactive, even at low doses. (vom Saal et al.1995) A 2009 study linked prenatal BPA levels to gender-specific behavioral alterations among 2-year-olds. Girls tended to become somewhat more aggressive; boys more anxious and withdrawn. (Raloff, 11-7-2009)
A study in the October 24, 2011 Pediatrics found that girls exposed to BPA before birth were more likely to be anxious, depressed, and hyperactive at age 3 (boys were unaffected). They found the results were comparable to the effects seen with high exposure to toxins such as lead, mercury, and pesticides. Exposure after birth didn’t seem to have the same profound effects as exposure during pregnancy. (Szabo, 10-24-2011) Then a study in 2012 suggested that prenatal exposure (but not childhood exposure) to BPA is connected to anxiety, depression, and difficult behavior in 3-year-olds, especially girls. The more BPA exposure in the womb, the more anxious, depressed and hyperactive children were at 3-years-old. (Cunningham, 2012)
BPA & its effects on child brain development
BPA interferes with estrogen in the brain, and this action could affect the migration and survival of neurons. (ibid) Thus some studies have suggested it alters a child’s brain development.
BPA & early puberty in girls
Because BPA is a chemical that mimics estrogen, most scientists believe it is partially responsible for the trend towards earlier puberty in girls, who are maturing at younger and younger ages, some as young as five or six.
How BPA affects reproductive development in boys
While BPA speeds up sexual development in girls, as an estrogen mimic it interferes with proper sexual development in boys. It can affect the prostate gland and gonadal development in children, essentially resulting in more feminized boys who have reproductive problems later.