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Chemical in food packaging harms unborn babies, says report

France’s health authority has released a report that highlights the toxic effects of an industrial chemical used in food packaging on pregnant women and their unborn child.

Exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) for a baby in the womb can result in a vast range of health and behavioural problems later in life, including breast cancer.

The report, released publicly on Tuesday by the French National Agency for Health, Food, Environment and Work Safety (ANSES), said BPA has been consumed by entire western populations.

In recent years, BPA, which is present in items like tins, boxes, bottles and dental fillings, has caused concern as an ‘endocrine disruptor’, due to its ability to imitate oestrogen and disrupt the hormone systems in humans and animals.

“In certain situations the exposure of a pregnant woman to BPA presents a risk for the mammary gland of the unborn child,” ANSES wrote.

“The identified effects concern a modification of the structure of the mammary gland in the unborn child, which could increase the risk of late tumour development.”

The Guardian reported pregnant supermarket check-out operators are particularly at risk of exposure to BPA through the thermal paper used in till receipts. This puts their children at risk of behavioural issues, obesity and reproductive problems.

Health risks posed by BPA have been an issue for twenty years, but ANSES says its research is the first to present scientific results with research on the population and environment. It did point out, however, that the risks are still considered moderate due to lack of further research.

The report said between 20 and 25 per cent of pregnant women are exposed to levels of BPA exceeding the indicated safe amount by the health agency.

ANSES said the biggest offender is food, making up 84 per cent of a pregnant woman’s exposure to BPA. Half of this comes from epoxy resins used to line food tins. Bottled water also poses a risk.

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