Latest Issue of Science News


News

Bad for Baby: New risks found for plastic constituent

Two animal studies demonstrate that early exposure to a chemical known to leach from baby bottles, the linings of food cans, and other plastic items can trigger illness and even changes in genetic expression. A building block of polycarbonate plastics, bisphenol A (BPA) ends up in food, people, and the environment.

In one of the new studies, the pollutant permanently reprogrammed a gene in pups of mice fed BPA-laced chow.

The mice carried the Agouti gene, which is particularly vulnerable to what are called epigenetic changes. In such effects, hormones and other agents typically remove chemical units known as methyl groups from genes, or add them, interfering with the genes' function. Epigenetically affected Agouti mice, normally lean and brown-haired, become fat and blond (SN: 6/24/06, p. 392).

Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

X
This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.