Lead author Joe Braun, a research fellow in environmental health at Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues at Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Medical Center and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, collected data from 244 mothers and their 3-year-old children in the Cincinnati area.
Mothers provided three urine samples during pregnancy and when they gave birth that were tested for BPA; their children were tested each year from ages 1-3, the researchers said. Mothers also completed surveys about their children's behavior, Braun said.
"None of the children had clinically abnormal behavior, but some children had more behavior problems than others," Braun said in a statement. "Thus, we examined the relationship between the mom's and children's BPA concentrations and the different behaviors."
BPA was detected in more than 85 percent of the mothers' urine samples and 96 percent of the children's urine samples. The researchers found that maternal BPA concentrations were similar between the first sample and birth.
The study, published online in advance of the November print issue of Pediatrics, found after adjusting for possible contributing factors, increasing gestational BPA concentrations were associated with more hyperactive, aggressive, anxious and depressed behavior and poorer emotional control and inhibition in girls, but not in boys.