Bisphenol A shapes children’s brain and behavior: towards an integrated neurotoxicity assessment including human data
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BisphenolsBPAEndocrine disruptorsBehaviorNeurodevelopmentBrainRisk assessmentHealth policyClarity BPAHBM4EU
Mustieles, V., & Fernández, M. F. (2020). Bisphenol A shapes children’s brain and behavior: towards an integrated neurotoxicity assessment including human data. Environmental Health, 19(1), 1-8. [https://doi.org/10.1186/s12940-020-00620-y]
SponsorshipEuropean Union (EU): H2020-EJP-HBM4EU; Biomedical Research Networking Center-CIBER de Epidemiologia y Salud Publica (CIBERESP); Instituto de Salud Carlos III FIS-PI16/01820 FIS-PI16/01812
Concerns about the effects of bisphenol A (BPA) on human brain and behavior are not novel; however, Grohs and colleagues have contributed groundbreaking data on this topic in a recent issue of Environmental Health. For the first time, associations were reported between prenatal BPA exposure and differences in children’s brain microstructure, which appeared to mediate the association between this exposure and children’s behavioral symptoms. Findings in numerous previous mother-child cohorts have pointed in a similar worrying direction, linking higher BPA exposure during pregnancy to more behavioral problems throughout childhood as assessed by neuropsychological questionnaires. Notwithstanding, this body of work has not been adequately considered in risk assessment. From a toxicological perspective, results are now available from the CLARITY-BPA consortium, designed to reconcile academic and regulatory toxicology findings. In fact, the brain has consistently emerged as one of the most sensitive organs disrupted by BPA, even at doses below those considered safe by regulatory agencies such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). In this Commentary, we contextualize the results of Grohs et al. within the setting of previous epidemiologic and CLARITY-BPA data and express our disquiet about the “all-or-nothing” criterion adopted to select human data in a recent EFSA report on the appraisal methodology for their upcoming BPA risk assessment. We discuss the most relevant human studies, identify emerging patterns, and highlight the need for adequate assessment and interpretation of the increasing epidemiologic literature in this field in order to support decision-making. With the aim of avoiding a myopic or biased selection of a few studies in traditional risk assessment procedures, we propose a future reevaluation of BPA focused on neurotoxicity and based on a systematic and comprehensive integration of available mechanistic, animal, and human data. Taken together, the experimental and epidemiologic evidence converge in the same direction: BPA is a probable developmental neurotoxicant at low doses. Accordingly, the precautionary principle should be followed, progressively implementing stringent preventive policies worldwide, including the banning of BPA in food contact materials and thermal receipts, with a focus on the utilization of safer substitutes.