Prenatal BPA Exposure Linked To Childhood Obesity Interview with:


Dr. Lori Hoepner

Lori A. Hoepner, DrPH
Department of Environmental Health Sciences
Columbia University
New York, NY 10032 What is the background for this study?

Dr. Hoepner: The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health was funded starting in 1998.  Pregnant African American and Dominican mothers residing in Northern Manhattan and the South Bronx were enrolled from 1998 to 2006, and mothers and their children have been followed since this time.  We collected urine samples from the pregnant mothers in their third trimester and from the children at ages 3 and 5.  At ages 5 and 7 we measured the height and weight of the children, and at age 7 we also measured body fat and waist circumference.  What are the main findings?

Dr. Hoepner:  We found a significant association between increased prenatal exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) and increases in childhood body fat measures of waist circumference and percent body fat at age 7.  Our research builds on earlier findings of an association between prenatal exposure to BPA and body fat in children up to age 4, and this is the first study to report an association at age 7. What should readers take away from your report?

Dr. Hoepner: Our findings suggest that prenatal BPA exposure may contribute to developmental origins of obesity – early exposure may have important later life effects.  Pregnant women, women planning pregnancy, and mothers should talk to their health care provider about strategies for healthy eating and lifestyle in order to reduce exposures to BPA.  Examples of such strategies would be eating fresh fruits and vegetables, avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages, and avoiding the handling of register receipts.  For more suggestions please see What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Hoepner: We believe that children may be exposed to an obesogenic environment and we don’t assume differential exposures by BPA.   Future research should investigate potential impacts from mixtures of different chemicals.  The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health has recently been funded to follow the children through age 18.  We plan to look at whether the effect on obesity outcomes from prenatal exposure to BPA persists in the children at older ages. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Andrew G. Rundle, Frederica P. Perera, Antonia M. Calafat, Diurka Diaz, Noel T. Mueller, Sharon E. Oberfield, Abeer Hassoun, Elizabeth M. Widen, Robin M. Whyatt, Lori A. Hoepner. Bisphenol A and Adiposity in an Inner-City Birth Cohort. 
Environmental Health Perspectives, 2016; DOI:10.1289/EHP205

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on May 18, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD