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A new study suggests that Bisphenol A, or BPA, is linked to an increased risk of developing asthma.
BPA is a widely used chemical used in plastic products like food and beverage containers and its adverse health effects have already been linked to other conditions like obesity, hormone abnormalities and heart problem.
But this study reveals that the controversial chemical is now related to asthma in children.
"Asthma prevalence has increased dramatically over the past 30 years, which suggests that some as-yet-undiscovered environmental exposures may be implicated," said Dr. Kathleen Donohue, the study's lead author, assistant professor of Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and investigator at the Center for Children's Environmental Health.
"Our study indicates that one such exposure may be BPA."
As part of the study, researchers analyzed data from 568 women in the Mothers & Newborns study on environmental exposures and measured BPA levels in the women's urine during the their third trimester pregnancy. Researchers also tested their childrens' urine for BPA at the age of three, five and seven.
And based on symptoms, medical exams and medical history, physicians diagnosed children with asthma at ages five and 12.
More than 90 percent of the children had detectable levels of BPA for each round of testing and the more of the chemical that was detected, the higher the incidence of wheezing and asthma that was recorded.
However, the study also found that pregnant women with higher amounts of BPA during their third trimester displayed lower amounts of wheezing in children who were five years of age.
This finding, in particular, suggests that the timing of exposure to BPA is an important factor in determining the adverse health affects of BPA in relation to asthma.
And considering that many products that are used in childhood like sippie cups and baby bottles contain BPA, these findings are alarming.
"At a population level, our study suggests that BPA may be an important and understudied environmental risk factor for child asthma," Donohue told Time in an e-mail.