This blog has already discussed studies that provide evidence of a link between bisphenol A (BPA) and birth defects. BPA is a low-level estrogen used to soften plastic that was, until fairly recently, ubiquitous in plastic bottles. It can still be found in the lining of aluminum cans. Now a new study adds to the evidence against BPA, claiming that the toxin may negatively affect women's reproductive health and cause birth defects and miscarriages.
The study, conducted by the University of California at Davis and Washington State University, found that rhesus monkeys, when exposed to BPA levels that are similar to that of humans, suffered from reproductive abnormalities, which increased their risk of giving birth to babies with Down syndrome or other birth defects, or of having a miscarriage. Previous studies involving worms and rats showed similar problems, but these results were especially significant because rhesus monkeys are much more like humans.
When pregnant monkeys received either a single dose of BPA per day, or small doses given on a continuous basis, the result was changes in the cells of eggs that would become the developing fetus. The egg cells were unable to divide properly, which meant that the egg cells had the wrong number of chromosomes. This would ultimately lead to birth defects or miscarriage. Monkeys exposed to continuous low levels of BPA developed fewer eggs overall, which meant that their reproductive life spans were likely to be shorter. What concerned scientists especially was that the changes were felt over several generations: a mother might be exposed to the BPA and still give birth to a seemingly normal child, but then that daughter would be unable to ovulate normal eggs.
These results are unmistakably grim, but it should be noted that none of the studies involving BPA have actually involved humans. Nonetheless, given that the results have been consistent across species, it is likely that similar damaging effects could be found in humans. That is a problem when BPA exposure is "nearly ubiquitous" among Americans, with 92.6 percent of people over the age of six years old having detectable levels of BPA in their urine.
If your child has a birth defect that you believe may be the result of prolonged BPA exposure, could you successfully sue for relief? That depends on your circumstances. Since BPA has been so ubiquitous for so many years, it may be very difficult to pinpoint the specific source of BPA responsible. Even if you were able to locate the exact source, you would then need to provide evidence that this source, and not one of many other sources, was the cause of your child's birth defect. That will likely be a difficult challenge, though not necessarily impossible.