In a recent study, experts have uncovered some pretty convincing evidence linking high levels of BPA (the chemical commonly found in plastics) to negative fertility outcomes. Specifically, that it may be upping the risk of miscarriage in women who are already prone to them.
The research is still very new, and has researchers wanting to probe further to say that there's for sure a correlation, but the evidence so far is pretty significant. And it seems the controversial chemical, which is short for bisphenol-A, also has an impact on women who have trouble getting pregnant to begin with.
So what's behind it all? BPA (along with other environmental chemicals) can wreak havoc on the body, having weakening, hormone-like effects when taken in in high doses. And that's pretty scary, considering BPA is found in everything from water bottles to canned food linings; so it's nearly impossible to stay away from. (That's also why it's probably no surprise to hear that the chemical shows up in nearly everyone's urine tests.) Since most miscarriages can be tied to egg or chromosome problems, researchers are thinking that BPA is triggering or elevating that risk.
Along with other researchers, Dr. Ruth Lathi, a Stanford University reproductive endocrinologist, studied 115 pregnant women who had a history of infertility or miscarriage. Of those women, an astounding 68 wound up having miscarriages and 47 had live births.
Scientists first took blood samples from the women who became pregnant and then divided them into four groups according to their BPA levels. The top quarter of those studied wound up having an 80 percent greater risk of miscarriage compared to those in the bottom group—even though they were around the same age and had other similarities. But the study, which was a relatively small one, resulted in a wide range of possible risk. Some had only slightly elevated BPA levels, while others' were 10 times higher.
"It may be that women with higher BPA levels do have other risk factors" for miscarriage that might be amplified by BPA, Lathi said.
So what can you do to lower your risks? Sadly, experts say you can never avoid the chemical completely, but you can lessen your exposure significantly by making a few basic changes. One biggie? Not heating or warming your food up in plastic. (The heat helps the chemical leak out into other things.) Plus, don't leave water bottles in the sun for extended periods of time, eat fewer canned foods, and you may even want to avoid holding onto cash register receipts. Believe it or not, many register receipts come coated with resins that have BPA in them. (Who knew?)