Pregnant women who are exposed to Bisphenol A (BPA) are at a high risk of having a baby with genetic disorders like Down Syndrome, says a new study.
Researchers at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, in collaboration with the Vall d'Hebron Hospital Fetal Tissue Bank, the Department of Gynaecology and the Research Unit of Paediatric Endocrinology, found that BPA can alter the development of oocytes and future ova, possibly diminishing the fertility of a woman's offspring and increasing the risk of Down Syndrome.
The results demonstrated that staying within the safety limits permitted by health authorities does not imply that exposure to the substance is innocuous.
The research, carried out with a culture of 21,570 in vitro oocytes, provides conclusive data for the debate on how BPA affects the health of individuals.
For the first time, human cells were used in a research to analyse the process of cell division of the oocytes - meiosis - in which chromosomes join and exchange material, i.e. meiotic recombination.
Oocytes were cultured for 7, 14 or 21 days in different environments, with the presence of BPA and in control cultures without the substance.
Data obtained in vitro with human cells was practically identical to that obtained with in vivo animal models, while the effects on meiotic recombination, which could lead to the appearance of Down Syndrome, in humans are even greater than those observed in mice.
"According to our results, BPA does not directly affect the fertility of pregnant women, but that of their daughters and granddaughters. It is a multigenerational effect", explains UAB professor Montserrat Garcia Caldes, director of the research.
The research is published in Human Reproduction.