1109 GMT October 21, 2019
The study is the first to look into the effects that BPA and BPS can have on the brain cells and genes linked to the development of reproduction organs. To test the chemicals, the researchers exposed zebrafish, whose transparent embryos make it easier to watch cell growth, to very small amounts of either BPA or BPS. Using fluorescent-green protein tags, they were able to track the development of the animals' reproductive endocrine brain cells, which control puberty and fertility, gizmag.com reported.
In both cases, they observed changes in physiology at the embryonic stage within 25 hours. They discovered that the number of endocrine neurons increased up to 40 percent, which suggests that BPA overstimulates the reproductive system even in cases of low-exposure.
"Egg-hatching time accelerated, leading to premature birth," said lead study author Nancy Wayne. "The embryos developed much faster than normal in the presence of BPA or BPS."
The research may help scientists better understand the supposed link between endocrine-disrupting chemicals and the rise in premature human births and early onset of puberty over the past couple of decades in the US. The findings seem to support the hypothesis as the team found that both BPA and BPS make their damage through an estrogen system and a thyroid hormone system. Thyroid hormone plays an important role in brain development during pregnancy.
The question that remains now is how to avoid those chemicals since plastic objects that contain them, such as baby bottles, food storage containers and plastic tableware, are everywhere around us.
"I advise people to avoid plastic whenever it's in your control to do so. I changed my behavior in 2007, when I first saw the results from our earlier work on the effects of BPA on early embryonic development," Wayne told Gizmag. "I threw out all plastic containers used for storing food. Ever since, I have been storing food in glass containers. Glass, stainless steel, and ceramic (make sure there's no lead in the glaze) are good alternatives. The caveat is that they're heavier than plastic, and glass and ceramic are breakable ― which can cause another set of problems."