People are continuously exposed to Bisphenol A (BPA), a plastics chemical commonly used in the coatings and construction of food containers.
The chemical has long been associated with unwanted health effects such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Now, a new research adds another danger of BPA exposure.
It suggests that higher concentration of the chemical in the blood may increase risk for preterm birth among pregnant women.
For the new study, which was published in The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, researchers analyzed the blood samples of pregnant women and the amniotic fluid from their fetus.
They found that the women whose bloodstream contained higher levels of BPA were more likely to have preterm birth compared with women with lower levels of BPA suggesting that BPA may cause abnormal inflammation that may lead to problems during pregnancy.
BPA binds to estrogen receptors including those that cause inflammation. Abnormal inflammation boosts likelihood of pregnancy complications.
"Increased BPA concentration is associated with an increased risk for preterm birth (PTB) or preterm premature rupture of membranes (pPROM) depending on the maternal-fetal compartment(s) affected," the researchers wrote in their study, it is the first study to investigate the role of BPA on the blood on preterm birth risks.
"High maternal plasma BPA concentrations are associated with PTB with intact membranes but high amniotic fluid BPA concentrations may weakly be associated with pPROM."
The study size was small so further research is needed to better understand the link between BPA and premature birth but the study authors said that most women have some level of exposure to BPA.
"All patients have some level of exposure suggests that contact with these materials is unavoidable," said study researcher Ramkumar Menon, from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
"This suggests that a better understanding of how BPA may alter maternal physiology is needed to minimize the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Prenatal exposure to BPA has also been linked with behavioral issues and lung complications. Babies and young kids are particularly sensitive to the effects of this chemical.
Because BPA is also used in baby bottle, the babies who are bottle-fed tend to be the ones who are most exposed to this chemical.