A new study published by the University of Missour has determined that Bisphenol-A has the ability to impact on parenting care. The study used animal models to test the hypothesis that BPA acts as an endocrine disrupting chemical affecting the maternal and paternal care of parents.
A mouse model was used to examine parental behavior as mice are monogamous and both male and female partners contribute to child-rearing and have the same parenting behavior as humans. Male partners exhibit cooperative care of the pups from birth to weaning by cleaning, grooming and providing warmth by huddling over their young when females leave the nest.
“Endocrine-disrupting chemicals like BPA mimic the steroid hormones that establish the ‘circuitry’ for the adult female brain during early development, but little was known about how this chemical might affect the father’s behavior,” said Cheryl Rosenfeld, associate professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and a researcher in the Bond Life Sciences Center at MU. “Our study set out to address this critical void by exposing both males and females to the endocrine-disrupting chemicals BPA and Ethinyl estardiol (EE), the main active component of birth control pills, and examine the repercussions of rearing offspring.”
The study consisted of exposing female mice to one of three diets; one diet contained BPA, the second contained concentrations of EE and the third was the control diet free of endocrine disruptors. Males were developmentally exposed to the same three diets.
The researchers found that females who were exposed to BPA spent less time nursing and reduced time bonding with their offspring. “The nature and extent of care received by an infant is important because it can affect social, emotional and cognitive development,” Rosenfeld said. “We found that females who were exposed early on to BPA spent less time nursing, so the pups likely did not receive the normal health benefits ascribed to nursing. Likewise, we found that developmental exposure of males and females to these endocrine-disrupting chemicals resulted in their spending more time out of the nest and away from their pups, further suggesting that biparental care was reduced.”