How America became obsessed with BPA
New research and a missing piece of the puzzle
A study published in April 2009 (A.M. Calafat et al. (2009) Exposure to bisphenol A and other phensols in neonatal intensive care unit premature infants. Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 117, pages 639-644. ), provides important evidence that infants – even those born prematurely – are able to detoxify BPA in the same way as adults.
About a quarter of the infants in the study had elevations of free bisphenol A in their urine, which was collected from diapers. But for the majority of the infants, 90 percent of BPA present in their urine was conjugated. As Willhite notes, “the Calafat data do show a substantial capability of even premature infants to conjugate and excrete BPA as contrast to previous assertions that infants are unable to detoxify BPA."
Of course, it is important to figure out what produced the elevated levels of BPA, and it seems that the authors of the paper suspect medical products and procedures that use polycarbonate plastics in the ICUs. And while they found no indication of any adverse health outcomes associated this non-oral exposure to BPA, they note that:
"Concerns related to BPA toxicity as well as high BPA exposure levels in this sensitive population of low-birth-weight premature infants may justify using [medical] products that do not contain BPA while not compromising the quality of medical care."
Despite this study, which was led by a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control, providing strong evidence that “millions of babies” are not at risk from oral exposure to BPA, and contradicting the assertions that babies cannot process the chemical in the same way as adults, the study received no coverage in the media.