Think how many times a day you drink out of a plastic soda or water bottle?we even feed babies with plastic bottles. Now researchers have found disturbing new evidence that exposure to a substance found in plastic food and drink containers may cause an unborn child to develop abnormal chromosomes. Down syndrome is one example of a birth defect caused by an extra chromosome.
The substance, called Bisphenol A (BPA), interferes with cell division in female mice and may affect humans as well. The disruption of cell division can result in an abnormal number of chromosomes in the eggs, which is the leading cause of mental retardation and birth defects in humans.
Researcher Patricia Hunt began studying BPA after normal mice used in research projects showed genetic abnormalities. The defects were traced to their plastic cages and plastic water bottles, which had been cleaned with a harsh detergent that caused the BPA to leach out of them.
She gradually reduced the BPA to very low levels, but still found that mice were affected. Hunt says, "We can't say anything about the effects of BPA on humans. Nevertheless, the cell division program for eggs is extraordinarily similar in mice and humans, and the results of our studies in mice are disturbing because brief exposure during the final stages of egg growth were sufficient to cause significant increases in?abnormalities."
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