Last updated on Jun 23rd, 2021 at 12:29 pm

We thought that BPA-free plastic products were safe, but now scientists warn that they could be as harmful as those that contain the chemical…

Using “BPA-free” plastic products could be as harmful to human health – including a developing brain – as those products that contain the controversial chemical.

This is according to a new study led by the University of Missouri.

The problem with BPA

For decades, scientists have studied BPA extensively in animal models with results indicating that the chemical plays a role in early pregnancy loss, placental diseases and various negative health outcomes after birth.

The alternatives to BPA are questionable

As these adverse health effects have become more widely known, companies have turned to alternative chemicals to develop plastic products – namely water bottles and food containers – and often labelling them “BPA-free”.

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However, MU scientist Cheryl Rosenfeld warns that these chemical alternatives, such as bisphenol S (BPS), still aren’t safe for people to use.

How BPS affects the placenta

In the study, Rosenfeld and her colleagues focused on examining the effects of BPS on a mouse’s placenta.

She said that the placenta serves as a historical record of what an unborn child faces while in the womb; the placenta can also transfer whatever the mother might be exposed to in her blood, such as harmful chemicals, into the developing child.

Synthetic chemicals like BPS can penetrate through the maternal placenta, so whatever is circulating in the mother’s blood can easily be transferred to the developing child,” said Rosenfeld, a professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine, investigator in the Bond Life Sciences Centre, and research faculty member for the Thompson Centre for Autism and Neurobehavioural Disorders at MU.

This mouse model is the best model we have now to simulate the possible effects of BPS during human pregnancy, because the placenta has a similar structure in both mice and humans.”

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How BPS may affect a developing baby’s brain

Rosenfeld adds that the placenta serves as a primary source of serotonin for foetal brain development in both mice and humans. Serotonin, while commonly associated with the feeling of happiness, is a natural chemical that can have an impact on a person’s functions, including their emotions and physical activities such as sleeping, eating and digesting food.

“The placenta responds to both natural chemicals as well as synthetic chemicals that the body misinterprets as natural chemicals, but the body doesn’t have the ability to mitigate the detrimental effects of such industrial-made chemicals,” Rosenfeld said. “More importantly, these chemicals have the ability to lower the placenta’s serotonin production. Lower levels of serotonin can compromise foetal brain development because during this critical time in development the brain relies on the placenta to produce serotonin. Thus, developmental exposure to BPA or even its substitute, BPS, can lead to longstanding health consequences.”

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Source: University of Missouri-Columbia via

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.