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BPA Levels in Children and ADHD?

 A recent study found that school age children with higher levels of BPA in their bodies were more likely to have an ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)  diagnosis. BPA or Bisphenol A is everywhere (in plastics, linings of cans, etc), found in varying levels in almost everyone, but at least it is eliminated fairly rapidly from the body. So trying to avoid BPA (e.g., buying and storing food in glass containers rather than cans or plastic containers) can quickly lower levels in the body. From Environmental Health News:

Hyperactivity in children linked to plastic additive, BPA

Children in the U.S. with higher levels of BPA in their bodies were more likely to have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), according to a study. The study of 460 children across the U.S. aged 8 to 15 years old found that 11 percent of those with BPA levels higher than the median level had ADHD. In contrast, 3 percent of those children with BPA levels below the median had ADHD. The research, published online last week in the Environment Research journal, adds to evidence that children’s BPA exposure may alter brain development and lead to behavior problems such as reduced attention and hyperactivity. 

The association was stronger for boys than girls, which reflects broader ADHD rates. Nationally about 10 percent of children between 5 and 17 have had an ADHD diagnoses, with boys having a much higher rate at 14 percent. By comparison about 6 percent of girls have the disorder, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.....BPA mimics estrogen hormones.The sexes use hormones differently to influence brain function.

BPA—used to make plastic hard and shatterproof and to extend the shelf life of canned food—can leach out of can linings and into the food. Studies show that just about everyone has traces of the chemical in their body—for instance, 97 percent of the children in this study had BPA in their urine. The additive has been linked to multiple health impacts in exposed babies and children—including obesity, asthma, low birth weights and genital defects.

A 2014 study on prenatal exposure to BPA found higher levels meant more behavior problems for school-age boys. Evans, lead author of that study, said prenatal exposure to chemicals is a “window of high susceptibility,” but so are the childhood years. The brain keeps developing into the 20s. Research specifically looking at ADHD and BPA exposure has been mixed, with some finding a link and some not. Most of the previous studies, however, have been on children younger than 8 years old, and ADHD and its symptoms are often realized later than that.

Animal studies show that BPA may alter the body’s dopamine—a chemical messenger that helps people think and stay alert and focused. “Dopamine systems are modulated by estrogen and BPA is a synthetic estrogen,” Froehlich said. There are also suggestions that BPA can interact with thyroid hormones—“critical in normal brain development,” Evans said.

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