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Your Environment. Your Health.

Fetal BPA Exposure Harms Reproduction Health in Primates

Patricia A. Hunt, Ph.D., Catherine A. VandeVoort, Ph.D.
Washington State University, University of California, Davis
NIEHS Grants R01ES013527, R01ES016770


A new primate study from NIEHS grantees adds more evidence that exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) can be disruptive to female reproductive systems. Although the study involved only a small group of animals, the findings support those from rodent studies and raise concerns about current levels of human exposure to BPA.


BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, and exposure can occur through consuming foods or beverages kept in packaging made with BPA. The researchers looked at how maternal levels of BPA, similar to those reported in humans, would affect the fetal ovary of rhesus monkeys. They assessed various durations and routes of exposure to BPA, including single daily doses of BPA and sustained low-level exposure.


The study’s findings suggest that, like mice, the fetal primate ovary is sensitive to BPA. Specifically, the researchers found that when second trimester monkeys were exposed to BPA at the beginning of fetal egg cell meiosis, the egg cells failed to divide properly during the earliest stage of development. In monkeys exposed continuously, the researchers also observed complications in the third trimester, noting that the eggs in the fetus were not packaged appropriately in follicles. The problems with fetal egg development could potentially affect later reproductive success and longevity.


Citation: Hunt PA, Lawson C, Gieske M, Murdoch B, Smith H, Marre A, Hassold T, Vandevoort CA. 2012. Bisphenol A alters early oogenesis and follicle formation in the fetal ovary of the rhesus monkey. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A; doi:10.1073/pnas.12078541092012 [Online 24 September 2012].

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