Harvard Study Finds BPA May Cause Human Infertility

A study from Harvard University has determined that bisphenol A may be causing higher instances of birth defects and infertility. According to an article published by Stephen Reinberg of US News, researchers from Harvard have concluded from their study that bisphenol A's endocrine disrupting properties may play a role in about 20 percent of documented cases of unexplained infertility. Reinberg writes that the study involved exposing 352 eggs from 121 consenting patients to different levels of bisphenol A.

"Exposure of eggs to BPA decreased the percentage of eggs that matured and increased the percentage of eggs that degenerated," said lead researcher Catherine Racowsky, director of the assisted reproductive technologies laboratory at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

BPA also increased the number of eggs that underwent an abnormal process called "spontaneous activation" that makes eggs act as if they have been fertilized when in fact they haven't been, Racowsky said.

Moreover, many eggs exposed to BPA that matured did so abnormally, increasing the odds for infertility and birth defects such as Down syndrome, she said.

Eggs exposed to the highest levels of BPA were the most likely to show these ill effects, the researchers found. Their results are similar to earlier research examining the effect of BPA on animal eggs, they said.

Racowsky explained that as these results were found in a laboratory, it would be difficult to determine if BPA exposure would invoke the same response in real life. The eggs used for the experiment were eggs that were going to be discarded because they didn't respond normally to tests, and so it is possible that they could have been damaged to begin with. Still, the study did yield a response that suggested a correlation between the amount of bisphenol A present and degeneration of the eggs -- results which have given the researchers a direction for further exploration. The study was published today in the scientific journal Human Reproduction. For more information on the study and the implications of its results, please see the full article here.

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