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Common plastic chemical linked to infertility

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A new study suggests a chemical widely found in a variety of household products may reduce the success of in vitro fertilization and damage human eggs.

Researchers at UC San Francisco analyzed the blood of 26 infertile women and their eggs. The eggs had been collected for in vitro fertilization.

The team found that those women with the most bisphenol-A (or BPA) in their blood had the least viable eggs, and vice versa. Indeed, as the blood levels of BPA in the women doubled, the percentage of eggs that fertilized normally declined by 50 percent.

Because the study was very small, the authors say it cannot be viewed as definitive.

However, they suggest that women trying to get pregnant might try avoiding food and personal care products known to contain the chemical.

BPA is a chemical that makes plastics hard and clear. It is also widely used as a resin to line the inside of food and beverage cans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has detected BPA in 93 percent of people the agency has tested.

"Given the widespread nature of BPA exposure in the U.S., even a modest effect on reproduction is of substantial concern," said Michael Bloom, one of the authors, in a statement.

Bloom is an environmental health scientist at the State University of New York.

Patricia Hunt, a Washington State University researcher, who has found evidence that BPA can damage mouse eggs, said she thought the results were interesting.

"This study provides the first direct evidence of a similar effect in humans," she said.

Scientists from the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry's trade association, were more skeptical.

"As noted by the authors, this is a small-scale, preliminary study and further studies are needed to confirm the findings," said Steven Hentges, a spokesman and scientist with the industry trade association. "In contrast, comprehensive studies on laboratory studies have found that BPA does not affect reproduction, in particular at the very low levels of BPA to which people may be exposed."

Findings are available online in the journal Fertility and Sterility.



Filed under: Environment, Daily Report


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