The detrimental effects of occupational exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), including in various stages of embryonic development, have been unequivocally established. For this very reason, and to avoid associated contentions regarding the use of other similar controversial chemicals, manufacturers have focused on using alternatives chemicals, such as bisphenol S (BPS), to make plastic products – namely water bottles and food containers – and often with the label “BPA-free”. But, are all BPA-free products safe for us to use?
A new study at the University of Missouri, Columbia, has revealed that use of BPA free products can cause as serious health consequences – including impairment of fetal brain development – as those that contain the controversial chemicals.
For the study, the team drew on placenta of a mouse model to best simulate the possible effects of BPS during human pregnancy. The placentas of two mammalian species may not be same, but those of humans and mice bear strong structural similarities. So they zeroed in on examining the effects of BPS on a mouse’s placenta.
To an unborn child, the placenta is like a life-support system. It delivers whatever the developing child requires via the umbilical cord of an expecting mother. It brings in oxygen, food, and so does whatever the mother is exposed to in her blood, including harmful chemicals such as BPS which can perforate through the maternal placenta. So whatever is running in the mother’s blood can end up in the developing child.
The placenta is also a principal source of serotonin for fetal brain development. Serotonin, also known as the feel good hormone, is a natural compound that regulates emotions, and circadian cycles that tell you when to eat, sleep and wake.
The placenta reacts to both natural and synthetic chemicals unimpeded so long as the body deems as natural chemicals. However, when it comes to industrially manufactured chemicals, the body doesn’t respond correctly. Moreover, these chemicals can deplete the placenta’s serotonin production, which can disturb fetal brain development – a critical time where brain relies on the placenta to produce serotonin. Thus, developmental exposure to BPA’s chemical alternatives, such as bisphenol S (BPS), can lead to long-standing health consequences.
The study was led by Cheryl Rosenfeld, a professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Missouri, and is one of the early efforts in translational research that seeks to improve human health and longevity by accessing the relevance of diseases of novel discoveries in animal science to humans. It can lay the groundwork for precision medicine as well as personalized health care systems, the researchers say.
The paper of the study – Bisphenol A and bisphenol S disruptions of the mouse placenta and potential effects on the placenta-brain axis – can be found at the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Source: University of Missouri, Columbia