Washington: Exposure to Bisphenol A or BPA, a toxic chemical found in many consumer products, during early pregnancy may be linked to wheezing in children.
BPA is found in products like plastic water bottles and food containers. It is present in more than 90 percent of the US population, suggesting widespread exposure.
Penn State College of Medicine assistant professor of paediatrics Adam Spanier studied 367 children, 99 percent of whom were born to mothers with detectable BPA levels in their urine during pregnancy.
These parents then reported any incidents of wheezing on a twice-yearly basis for three years. At six months, the odds of wheezing are twice as high for children with mothers who had higher BPA than those who had mothers with lower BPA levels.
However, the effects may have diminished as the children aged, according to a Penn statement.
Researchers then looked at the levels of BPA in the women during certain times of their pregnancies and any association with wheezing in their children.
Higher BPA concentrations in the urine of the pregnant women at 16 weeks were associated with wheezing in their babies. However, concentrations of BPA at 26 weeks or at birth were not associated with wheezing in their children.
"This suggests that there are periods of time during pregnancy when the foetus is more vulnerable," Spanier said. "Exposure during early pregnancy may be worse than exposure in later pregnancy."
These findings were presented on Sunday at the Paediatric Academic Societies` annual meeting in Denver in the US.