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Plastic Chemical May Harm Pregnant Women, Infant Boys

A new study from UC Berkeley suggests that the chemical BPA, common in plastics, may affect the thyroid function of pregnant women, with effects that could carry over to their newborn boys.

The study looked at 364 pregnant women and their infants. It measured the BPA levels in their urine and how well their thyroids were working.  

Co-author Jonathan Chevrier says thyroid hormones are critical to prenatal brain development, "so any potential effects of BPA on thyroid hormone would be of concern."

Women with higher BPA levels gave birth to baby boys with more active thyroids. Girls, for some reason, didn't appear to be affected.

Chevrier called the results intriguing but preliminary. "We need to spend a little more time trying to understand what's happening, and hopefully other studies will confirm our results."

The infants in the study are now nine and ten years old. Chevrier's team is currently evaluating their IQ scores to see whether there's correlation between those scores and the BPA levels measured a decade ago in their pregnant mothers.

Chevrier says the primary means of BPA exposure for the women in the study seemed to be through canned food.

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