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New research published today finds that new-borns in intensive care units are in contact with a variety of medical products that contain bisphenol A (BPA) and parabens [1]. Infants are particularly vulnerable to the effects from these endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), causing scientists and health groups alike to demand more comprehensive regulation of EDCs across the board for better protection.

According to the study, published online in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives, BPA was detected in almost 60% of the tested medical devices used in neonatal intensive care units and parabens in more than 85%. One quarter of the item extracts showed estrogenic activity, and one-tenth showed anti-androgenic activity.

“These findings raise significant concerns about the failure of current regulations to protect the population from exposure to known endocrine disruptors in the most critical periods of development, when every effort should be made to prevent such exposure,” says Natacha Cingotti, Health and Chemicals Policy Officer at the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL).

“To really make a health difference, the new Commission must commit measures to guarantee that every new-born is truly protected from substances that harm their development; this should be self-evident for babies in intensive care units and also requires protection from exposure before birth.”

Early life exposure to EDCs like BPA has been associated with later life neurodevelopmental and metabolic disorders in humans. The body of scientific evidence on the adverse health and environmental impacts of BPA – even at very low doses – is already so significant that the European Chemicals Agency listed it as a substance of very high concern [2]. Yet the health risks associated with combined exposures to endocrine disruptors like BPA are still systematically underestimated, as shown by another EU research project earlier this year [3].

Contact:

Natacha Cingotti, Health and Chemicals Policy Officer, natacha@env-health.org, +32 (0)2 234 36 45

Notes:

[1] “Presence of bisphenol A and parabens in a neonatal intensive care unit: an exploratory study of potential sources of exposure” was published online in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives: https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/EHP5564

Dr. Carmen Freire-Warden, an author of this paper, will present the study’s findings at the meeting “Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Healthcare – Reducing Exposures for Patients” in Brussels on December 3. The meeting is organized by Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe.

[2] https://www.env-health.org/eu-finally-recognises-bisphenol-a-as-an-endocrine-disruptor-for-human-health/

[3] https://www.env-health.org/health-risks-associated-with-combined-exposures-to-endocrine-disruptors-are-systematically-underestimated-shows-eu-research-project/