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Attention pregnant shoppers: Study says those cash register receipts could harm your unborn child

Pregnant women are being warned to avoid reaching for credit card and cash register receipts, as researchers say the paper could be a threat to unborn children.


The receipts can contain the toxin bisphenol A and its chemical cousin, bisphenol S, chemicals that a new study shows can alter brain development and behaviour in animals exposed to extremely low doses.


The research published Monday by a team at the University of Calgary was done on zebrafish. But the findings are so worrying that lead researcher Deborah Kurrasch and her colleagues are calling for “removal of all bisphenols from consumer merchandise.”


They also “suggest that pregnant mothers limit exposure to plastics and receipts,” a recommendation that is echoed by other researchers familiar with the power of the endocrine-disrupting chemicals.


The greatest risk is in the second trimester when infant brains are rapidly growing and would be most vulnerable to the ill effects of bisphenol A, or BPA, and Bisphenol S, BPS, which has been widely used to replace BPA.


The chemicals can have “real and measurable effects on brain development and behaviour,” the researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Their experiments on embryonic fish found minuscule doses of the chemicals — far below levels deemed safe in Canada — stimulate excess growth of neural cells associated with hyperactivity.

The chemicals can have ‘real and measurable effects on brain development and behaviour,’ the researchers report

BPA is used to harden plastic and is found in plastic containers, the lining of cans and on the thermal paper that is used to produce everything from credit card receipts to theatre tickets. As concern about BPA has grown, it is increasingly being replaced by BPS — which the study says is just as bad.


It “equally affects neurodevelopment,” says the study which adds to mounting concerns about the chemicals which can leach into food and rub off receipts. Health Canada surveys have shown that 95% of Canadians have trace amounts of BPA in their urine, with the highest levels seen in children.


BPA are endocrine disrupters that have been linked to obesity, cancer and childhood neurological disorders such as anxiety and hyperactivity. Previous studies suggesting that BPA may affect brain development prompted Canada and some other countries to ban the chemical’s use in baby bottles and phase out its use in baby food containers.


Dr. Kurrasch and her colleagues say regulators need to go much further.


Their work on embryonic zebrafish found very low doses — “1,000 fold lower than the accepted human daily exposure” of BPA — lead to overproduction of neural cells in the hypothalamus, a region of the brain involved in hyperactivity.


“What we show is that BPA affects the timing of when neurons are born, and that presumably alters circuitry in the brain, so you get this slightly different wiring,” Dr. Kurrasch said in an interview. She is a developmental neuroscientist who studies how changes in the brain in early life can impact later life.


Dr. Kurrasch says regulatory authorities such as Health Canada need to reassess human tolerable daily intake levels.


Health Canada was asked for comment on the study but did not respond before deadline.


Postmedia News


via National Post



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