BPA in pregnant women might affect kids’ behavior

Posted Oct. 23, 2011, at 9:09 p.m.

CHICAGO — Exposure to BPA before birth could affect girls’ behavior at age 3, according to the latest study on potential health effects of the widespread chemical.

Preschool-aged girls whose mothers had relatively high urine levels of bisphenol-A during pregnancy scored worse but still within a normal range on behavior measures including anxiety and hyperactivity than other young girls.

The results are not conclusive and experts not involved in the study said factors other than BPA might explain the results. The researchers acknowledge that “considerable debate” remains about whether BPA is harmful, but say their findings should prompt additional research.

The researchers measured BPA in 244 Cincinnati-area mothers’ urine twice during pregnancy and at childbirth. The women evaluated their children at age 3 using standard behavior questionnaires.

Nearly all women had measurable BPA levels, like most Americans. But increasingly high urine levels during pregnancy were linked with increasingly worse behavior in their daughters. Boys’ behavior did not seem to be affected.

The researchers said if BPA can cause behavior changes that could pose academic and social problems for girls already at risk for those difficulties.

“These subtle shifts can actually have very dramatic implications at the population level,” said Joe Braun, the lead author and a research fellow at Harvard’s School of Public Health.

For every 10-fold increase in mothers’ BPA levels, girls scored at least six points worse on the questionnaires.

Aussie coast fears rogue shark may have killed 3

CANBERRA, Australia — The sudden death of an American diver in the jaws of a great white shark off Australia’s southwest coast has raised the specter of a rogue man-eater preying on a renowned aquatic playground and killing three men in two months.

The latest was Saturday when American George Thomas Wainwright, 32, was attacked while diving solo off a boat near Rottnest Island, a few miles from the city of Perth in Western Australia state.

Scientists say three sharks more likely are responsible, and the three cases are sheerly unfortunate encounters with nature.

Australia’s southwest corner has been better known for whale and dolphin-watching cruises, white sandy beaches, and world-class surf breaks than for fatal shark attacks.

“This is a unique set of circumstances, and I’m desperately … praying this is not the beginning of a new trend … and we’re going to have these on a regular basis,” Western Australia state Fisheries Minister Norman Moore said Sunday.

Scientist: Satellite must have crashed into Asia

BERLIN — A defunct German research satellite crashed into the Earth somewhere in Southeast Asia on Sunday, a U.S. scientist said — but no one is still quite sure where.

Most parts of the minivan-sized ROSAT research satellite were expected to burn up as they hit the atmosphere at speeds up to 280 mph, but up to 30 fragments weighing a total of 1.87 tons could have crashed, the German Aerospace Center said.

Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said the satellite appears to have gone down over Southeast Asia. He said two Chinese cities with millions of inhabitants each, Chongqing and Chengdu, had been in the satellite’s projected path during its re-entry time, but if it had come down over a populated area there probably would have been reports Sunday.

Libya is finally ‘liberated,’ new leaders declare

BEIRUT — Libya’s new rulers declared their nation “liberated” on Sunday, opening the way for elections and a constitution that the revolutionary government says will put the country on a path to its first representative democracy.

The declaration in the eastern city of Benghazi — where mass protests in February ignited what became a national rebellion — came three days after Libya’s long-time ruler, Moammar Gadhafi, was slain in his home city of Sirte as the city was overrun by revolutionary forces.

Officials say Gadhafi was killed in battle or in a crossfire after he was captured. But the nature of his death, apparently from a bullet to the head, has raised suspicions that he may have been executed while a prisoner.

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