HomeHealth articlesautism spectrum disorderHow Does Bisphenol A Contribute To Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Bisphenol A, present in plastics or food, can cause autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children due to prenatal exposure. Read the article to know more about it.

Written by

Dr. Osheen Kour

Medically reviewed by

Neha Suryawanshi

Published At November 9, 2022
Reviewed AtDecember 20, 2022


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a multifactorial condition usually associated with genetic and environmental factors. Bisphenol A or BPA chemical is used in polycarbonate manufacturing and found in the environment for various purposes. Its effects on humans, mainly children, show some behavioral disorders common in autism cases, thus, showing a link between BPA exposure and an autism spectrum disorder.

What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

ASD is a brain development disorder that affects a person's neurological health, including physical, social, emotional, and cognitive well-being. Also, repetitive behavior and difficulty in communication and social interaction are other symptoms of autism spectrum disorder.

What Is Bisphenol A?

Bisphenol A is an industrial chemical used to manufacture plastics and other polycarbonate products to make containers for storing beverages, food, and many plastic goods.

How Does Bisphenol Cause Autism Spectrum Disorder?

  • Bisphenol A exposure in fetuses is caused by the entry of these chemicals through the human placenta into the body causing estrogenic chemical toxicity, especially in the evolving brain.

  • Many studies were conducted to show the association between autism spectrum disorder and bisphenol A via amino acid metabolism pathways. These amino acids, such as tryptophan, act as antecedents for neurotransmitters like serotonin and disrupt the serotonergic system due to fetal and prenatal exposure to bisphenol A.

  • Some studies also show that bisphenol A exposure can cause abnormalities in brain capacity and focus abilities due to different serotonin synthesis processes in the body.

  • Studies have also found that bisphenols can cause endocrine disruption in the body and, therefore, affect the production of androgen and thyroid hormones in pregnancy. These two hormones are important for fetal brain development.

What Are the Various Studies Showing a Link Between BPA and Autism?

  • The study was performed on children with autism spectrum disorder and 52 control cases with no BPA exposure. It was found that almost 20% of children with ASD had bisphenol-A in urine up to >50ng/l as compared to the other 52 isolated children.

  • Another study was performed on ASD children in New Jersey. Their urine samples were examined and compared with healthy children. It was found that BPA excreted by the autism group was three times more than by normal children, thus confirming Bisphenol causing autism spectrum disorder.

  • A study performed on a mouse fetus exposed to bisphenol-A showed disruption in brain nerve cell formation and caused autistic as well as changed social behavior in the fetus.

What Are the Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder?

  • Repetitive or restricted behavior.

  • Problem with social interaction and communication.

  • Delayed cognitive skills, language, and movements.

  • Excessive stress and worry.

  • Impulsive and hyperactive behavior.

  • Seizures.

  • Disrupted and unusual sleeping pattern.

  • Diarrhea and Constipation.

  • Abnormal eating habits and choices.

  • Unpredictable emotional reactions.

What Are the Causes of Autism Spectrum Disorder?

  • Genetic history of autism.

  • Environmental toxins and heavy metal exposure.

  • Low birth weight infants.

  • Metabolic disruption.

  • Genetic mutations.

  • History of maternal viral infection.

  • Valproic acid exposure during the infant period.

How to Minimize Exposure to BPA Products?

  • Avoid using plastic bottles, stainless steel, glass, or porcelain bottles to feed babies.

  • Plasticware must be changed periodically to avoid leaching out chemicals after multiple uses.

  • Do not boil or heat plastic milk bottles for sterilization.

  • Packaged or canned food must be avoided because it contains an epoxy lining of bisphenol-A.

  • Plastic containers should not be used for heating food in the microwave because heating can cause plastic chemicals to mix with food particles.

  • Plastic products must be checked for recycling codes, and those labeled as 7(bisphenols), 6 (styrene), and 3 (phthalates) must be avoided unless they are greenware or biobased products.

How Is Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of autism is not possible through any clinical test. However, the pediatrician may look for developmental defects in the child during regular follow-ups.

This includes:

  • Regular questioning about the child’s changed behavior, communication skills, and social interactions over time.

  • Tests are given to the child to understand various issues with speech, language, hearing, brain development level, and other behavioral changes.

  • In some cases, genetic testing is advised to look for any genetic disorder associated with this condition, like fragile X syndrome or Rett syndrome.

  • A child’s performance is evaluated and scored for communication and social interactions.

What Are the Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Treatments for autism spectrum disorders are not available as such except for maximizing the ability of the child to reduce the symptoms and development of learning and communication through various therapy-based programs such as:

  • Behavior and Communication Therapies - These programs teach new skills for behavior, language, and social difficulties and help children with autism communicate and act better.

  • Family Therapy - In this program, parents and family members are trained to interact and play with their children to help them with communication, behavior, and social interaction skills.

  • Play Therapy - Specialists head these programs to teach autism patients different communication and behavioral skills with interventions based on personal levels. It enhances their emotional and social skills.

  • Speech Therapy - This program helps children deal with language and communication difficulties by improving their speech and non-verbal communication.

  • Occupational Therapy - This technique helps the child with autism deal with everyday activities to help them fulfill their daily needs and goals. This is done by the joint efforts of parents, teachers, and therapists to improve a child's social and behavioral skills.


Researchers have raised numerous concerns and issues regarding bisphenol-A toxicity in the environment and its effects on humans, especially in fetuses, infants, and children. BPA has been found in human urine, saliva, umbilical cord blood, amniotic fluid, placental tissues, and serum showing its toxic effects on brain development and causing many neurological variations. In addition, Bisphenol A toxicity associated with autism spectrum disorder is evident in various human studies, but additional research or investigation for more accurate information is needed.

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Neha Suryawanshi
Neha Suryawanshi


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