Prenatal exposure to bisphenol A -- a compound bearing similarities to the hormone estrogen, which is found in a lot of plastics -- meant lasting genetic changes for female mice when they reached puberty, according to new research that reinforces concerns about the link between BPA and female reproductive disorders.
Yale University School of Medicine researchers presented the data Tuesday at a meeting of The Endocrine Society in Houston, Texas. The research has not yet appeared in a peer-reviewed journal.
Before the mice reached puberty, the Yale team didn't see much difference in the gene expression patterns of BPA-exposed mice and control mice.
But after the mice reached puberty, BPA-exposed mice showed alterations in how much of a gene's product was produced for 365 separate genes. In 208 of those genes, the researchers saw unusual patterns of DNA methylation - a chemical process that regulates how the gene is expressed. Of those 208 genes, at least 14 are known to play roles in the mouse's response to estrogen.
Other studies have linked BPA's estrogen-like characteristic to breast cancer and other disorders with roots in abnormal sensitivity to estrogen, according to the researchers.
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Many major manufacturers have already stopped using BPA in the production of baby bottles and other products, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it is working to develop BPA alternatives for the linings of infant formula cans.
BPA exposure in utero appears to program uterine estrogen responsiveness in adulthood, lead author Hugh Taylor said in a statement. Pregnant women should minimize BPA exposure.