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Prenatal exposure may cause child changes

July 31, 2007 at 1:03 PM   |   Comments

DURHAM, N.C., July 31 (UPI) -- A U.S. study showed prenatal exposure to bisphenol A, a chemical used in plastics, caused noticeable changes in offspring.

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., also discovered that administration of folic acid or genistein, an active ingredient in soy, during pregnancy protected the offspring from the negative effects of BPA, according to the findings published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The Duke team studied a strain of animals known as agouti mice that tend to be slender and brown. The researchers found that when the mouse mothers received BPA, a statistically significant increase in offspring were born with a yellow coat. Previous studies had shown that yellow agouti mice are at a much greater risk for diabetes, obesity and cancer.

"The fact that the mice fed BPA had a yellow coat and likely would grow to be obese as adults demonstrates that this single substance had a system-wide effect," Dana Dolinoy, a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Randy Jirtle, senior member of the research team, said in a statement. "A comparison between the large yellow mice and the normal brown mice showed identical genetic makeup, yet strikingly different appearances."

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