A chemical found in dozens of household items may double a woman’s risk of miscarriage, researchers warn.
Scientists said pregnant women should avoid canned food, stop heating food in plastic containers and even avoid touching cash register receipts.
Researchers from the prestigious Stanford University in California found pregnant women with the highest levels of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in their blood were 80 per cent more likely to miscarry.
They measured levels of the chemical – found in plastics and items including water bottles, sunglasses and CD cases – when the pregnancy was confirmed by the doctor.
Lead researcher Dr Ruth Lathie said: ‘Until further studies are performed, women with unexplained miscarriages should avoid BPA exposure in an effort to remove one potential risk factor.
‘There are some simple things that people can do, but it’s impossible to avoid it completely.
‘Avoid anything that involves cooking or warming food in plastic as the chemicals leak out of plastic materials at a higher rate at higher temperatures.
‘Avoid canned food, avoid cooking or heating plastic and also avoid touching things that have high BPA resin – something as simple as a cash register receipt which is coded with resin that has BPA in it.’
Miscarriages are common and statistically one in three women in the UK will suffer one at some point during their lives.
A spokesman from the Miscarriage Association said the US study was too small to draw any firm conclusions, and warned against causing further worry for pregnant women who are already told to avoid many products, including caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, raw eggs and pate.
In another study, the US Government’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development looked at the records of 501 couples who were trying to become pregnant between 2005 and 2009.
All provided urine samples which were measured for levels of BPA and phthalates – another group of chemicals used in plastics.
They were monitored for a year and kept diaries stating if and when they became pregnant.
Oddly, the researchers found that high levels of phthalates affected men’s fertility but not women’s.
Couples where the male partner had high recordings were 20 per cent more likely not to conceive within the year.
Dr Linda Giudice, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said: ‘These chemicals are a cause of concern to all of us.
‘We don’t know necessarily the exact biochemical mechanism [cause] but other studies point to the need to be aware of the use of these chemicals.’
The findings from the two studies follow a World Health Organisation move to ban phthalates and bisphenol A amid suggestions they also cause breast cancer, leukaemia, asthma and birth defects.
The WHO said the chemicals had ‘serious implications’ for health, and a ban was needed to ‘protect future generations’.
Elizabeth Salter-Green, of the campaign group CHEM Trust, said: ‘Both pieces of research highlight how vitally important it is for the UK Government to agree the need for EU measures to eliminate our exposure to all hormone disruptors.
‘We could be jeopardising future generations as hormones are so fundamental to our ability to reproduce.’
The studies are being presented today at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s conference in Boston.
- The Natural Hydration Council asks us to point out that the plastic material used to contain naturally sourced bottled waters found on British supermarket shelves is made of PET (Polyethylene Terephtalate). ‘There is no Bisphenol A (BPA) in PET plastic. PET is the main packaging used for beverages, it is completely safe and complies with all European and national legal requirements’, said a spokeswoman.