Thursday, May 31, 2012

BPA and Its Effects on In Vitro Fertilization

Because of its flexible but strong properties, Bisphenol A (or BPA) is a chemical commonly used in a huge array of plastic products. Just how common is it? According to one study, as of 2009, 3.6 million tons of BPA are used by manufacturers yearly. You will find BPA in everything from plastic food containers and baby bottles, to household electronics. This wouldn’t be so bad if BPA didn’t have the nasty habit of leaching into things it comes in contact with. For example, food kept in plastic containers with BPA will absorb the BPA and it doesn’t stop there.  When we consume the food, BPA enters into our bodies and can act as an endocrine disruptor, which behaves like or even blocks hormones. These actions mess with our normal body functions and can result in several different health issues, including (but not limited to) various cancers, thyroid issues, and difficulty conceiving.

Recent research has shed more light on the effects of BPA on one specific health concern: women’s reproductive health. In particular, this new research suggests that higher levels of BPA can reduce women’s chances of conceiving while undergoing in vitro fertilization treatments.  The study followed 137 women seeking fertility treatment at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center.   BPA concentration levels were measured in each woman’s urine sample.  Background information was collected on each participant, such as race, age, medical history and lifestyle factors.

The researchers followed each woman’s progress as she underwent fertility treatment, recording successful embryo implantations and failures.  After analyzing all of the data they had collected, the researchers saw a clear correlation between increased BPA levels and decreased rates of pregnancy.  Women with the higher levels of BPA in their urine were less likely to be able to conceive, and this trend persisted when the researchers controlled for the background factors, such as age, that they had collected.

This is the first study to look at the role BPA plays in women seeking fertility treatment, and furthermore, it supports the finding of past studies that have looked at the effects of BPA in animals.  For more information on this study and the effects of BPA explore the links below.

~ Jessica


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