Chemical in Plastics Associated with 80 Percent Higher Risk of Miscarriage

By Breanna Draxler | October 17, 2013 4:50 pm

pregnant-woman-drinking-waterHow often do you eat or drink out of a plastic container? (Coffee mug, lunch container, TV dinner, water bottle, the mental tally continues…) Plastic is everywhere, and two new studies suggest that exposure to chemicals released from plastics could increase the risk of miscarriage by 80 percent, particularly in women who have miscarried before.

The first study looked at a chemical, present in many types of plastic, called bisphenol-A or BPA. Scientists analyzed 114 pregnant women who had histories of infertility or miscarriages and found that those with high levels of BPA in their blood were 80 percent more likely to miscarry than the rest of the participants. In total, 68 women lost their babies.

Researchers don’t know why the chemical has such an impact or why some women’s levels were so much higher than others’. They are unsure if it comes down to exposure alone, or if the chemical is metabolized differently in different people, amplifying other risk factors.

In the second study, researchers looked at another type of hormone-disrupting chemical found in plastics: phthalates. Over the course of a year, scientists followed 500 couples trying to conceive. When mens’ phthalate levels were high, they found, the chance of their partners getting pregnant was 20 percent lower.

Away From Plastic

The scary part of these findings, presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s annual conference in Boston this week, is this: The most obvious solution—avoiding plastics—is almost impossible. BPA, for example, can be found in plastic packaging, canned goods and even cash register receipts. It’s everywhere.

Your best bet, the researchers say, is to minimize exposure. The lead author on the first study, Dr. Ruth Lathi, told the Telegraph,

“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.”

And Dr, Linda Giudice, society president said,

“Don’t leave your water bottles in the car in the sun. Studies show that levels of BPA increase by about 1000-fold in the water of a bottle that has been sitting in the sun.”

While the two studies suggest that plastics may be harmful to reproductive health, especially for those with a history of infertility, future research will have to figure out exactly how these chemicals affect the human body. Not to mention how their negative impacts can be avoided or reversed.

Image credit: Halfpoint/Shutterstock

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
  • Mykeljon

    And just last week, I read an article that said the exact opposite. It presented “scientific” evidence that there is no harmful transfer from plastics. So who do we believe? Eggs are bad. Eggs are good. Coffee is bad. Coffee is good. Butter is bad. Butter is good. We are barraged with an endless series of contradictions.


      Agree, it seems so hard to live a normal healthy life

    • Faig

      Look for a profit motive. Do plastics producers have a profit motive to sponsor research that tries to downplay the harm from plastics ? Sure, they do. Follow research that provides data with no obvious profit motive, not the research that tries to downplay the negative implications of the data found in previous research. There are almost no independent scientists left – most are associated with big business one way or the other. The few independent scientists that try to reveal the truth are attacked immediately by big business. Research that praise particular product like coffee or eggs is most likely to be sponsored by some association of coffee growers or egg producers. Plant-based foods should be the cornerstone of every diet – once you accept that basic premise, it is very easy to spot the research to follow and the business-sponsored BS research to ignore.

    • Virtuous2012

      Who funded that study? That’s the bottom line. Industry recruits academic whores to publish “scientific evidence” that supports the industries’ bottom line. As Judge Sirica said in the fabled Watergate trial “Follow the money”.

  • Michael

    Science cannot tell you what is good or bad. Science can only present you with data, correlational or otherwise.

    It’s up to you to DECIDE what you want to do.

    Otherwise go back to watching Dr. Phil spoon feed the masses.

  • Georg


    “desinformation” is somewhere borderline between incompetence

    typical for medical “scientists” and alarmism.

    Bisphenol A is a chemical used predominantly in technical plastics
    (epoxi resins, eg epoxi glue), there is only one application which is close to

    food, that is laquer inside of cans (so called gold laquer).
    If one knows the recipes of such laquers (I do) , one would recommend to

    look for traces of another dozen of chemicals, which might be more


    Next is the social factor: who eats a lot of canned food, especially

    canned food with is high in fat? (fat will enhance the migration

    of BPA out of the laquer)

    And last not least: the recipes of those laquers are fixed by a list of

    allowed raw materials by FDA, Funny, isn’t it?

    Phtalates: the only plastics where phatalates were added as softeners

    is (were, at least in Europe) soft PVC. Bottles are made from

    PET, which does not contain BPA or Phthatalate.

    In general: there are dozens of different “plastics”, which do not contain anything which could migrate. This means the headline of the study is misleading, more or less it is alarmism.


  • Buddy199

    I wonder how the stress of being a hypochondriac affects fertility levels?

  • Paul Shipley

    PET Plastic which is in general use in bottled water does not contain BPA. Simple as that. This article is not factual and lessens the credibility of real science.

    • Breanna Draxler

      Thanks for weighing in, Paul. You are correct that bottled water is typically sold in PET bottles, which do not contain BPA. In the article I made sure to reference water bottles in general rather than bottled water because many reusable plastic water bottles DO contain BPA, and these are the ones to be aware of and careful with.

  • Nicole

    Everyone is debating the presence of BPA in bottled water, but what about all the tv dinners that women eat? I don’t work in an office anymore, but when I did (for 10 years), most of my fellow 20- and 30-something coworkers heated up tv dinners for lunch. Lean Cuisine, Weight Watchers, Budget Gourmet, Michelina’s, Banquet, etc. This was very common, and most of them came in plastic trays and were supposed to be heated with the plastic wrap still on the outside, with maybe a “slit” in the top for ventilation. Just an observation.

  • Nicole

    And I agree that there is a lot of contradictory information regarding food. To this person, and any who are distrusting of so called “food science,” I suggest you read Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food.” There is much to be learned about the quality of butter, fat, eggs, meat, etc based on how animals are raised nowadays (in factory farms) vs. when our great-grandparents were alive and living into very old age eating bacon and using lard from animals raised in a much better way.


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