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Does Bisphenol A Contribute To Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Review

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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 AtMay 20, 2024


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.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is BPA Exposure Linked to Autism Spectrum Disorder?

There is conflicting evidence about the relationship between BPA (bisphenol A) exposure and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Some studies point to a possible connection since BPA might impair endocrine function, which affects neurodevelopment. However, further investigation is required to make a firm relationship. 


What Chemicals are Linked to Autism?

The exact cause of autism is unknown, but research has explored potential links to factors such as pesticide exposure during pregnancy and certain air pollutants. However, no specific chemicals have been definitively proven to cause autism.


Can a Person with Mild Autism Live a Normal Life?

With the right assistance, people with moderate autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may typically attain a high level of independence and lead satisfying lives. Early intervention, individualized therapy, and educational support are frequently necessary for successful outcomes.


Can Autism be Cured if Caught Early?

Although autism spectrum disorder (ASD) cannot be cured, results can be significantly enhanced with early intervention. Intensive behavioral and developmental therapies can improve communication and adaptive abilities, including Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), speech therapy, and social skills training.


Can Autism Get Better with Age?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) progression differs significantly from person to person. While some people may get better as they age, especially with the right treatments, others still have problems. As they age, some people with ASD may acquire coping mechanisms and functional abilities that help them operate more independently. 


Does Autism Get Worse After Age 3?

After age 3, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) does not always become worse. In fact, throughout the formative years, early intervention and focused therapy can provide notable gains. The severity of autism symptoms can vary widely among individuals, and the course of the disorder is highly heterogeneous.


Who Carries The Autism Gene, the Mother or Father?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has a complicated pattern of heredity, and both parents may increase the risk. ASD is not primarily caused by genetics, and environmental aspects could also be important. Awareness of the risk factors for ASD requires an awareness of the complex interaction between genetic and environmental variables.


How Late Can Autism Develop?

Although it can be diagnosed later in life, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) commonly emerges before the age of 3. Some people may provide hints or exhibit more pronounced traits when social and communication demands rise. 


What Is The Best Treatment for Autism in The World?

A multidisciplinary approach frequently incorporates social skills instruction, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral therapies like Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). Positive results need early action. Key elements include individualized education programs and support systems.


What Causes a Baby to be Born with Autism?

The exact cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is unknown, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Certain risk factors during pregnancy, such as advanced parental age, certain prenatal complications, and exposure to certain medications, have been associated with an increased likelihood of ASD. 


What Illnesses has BPA been Linked With?

- Endocrine Disruption: Due to BPA's ability to mimic estrogen, the endocrine system may be upset.
- Reproductive Issues: Animal studies have shown that exposure to BPA may disrupt male reproductive system development and fertility, among other reproductive problems.
- Cardiovascular Disease: A few studies have examined the potential associations between BPA exposure and an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.


How Does BPA Affect Children's Behavior?

BPA, which is present in several plastics and consumer goods, may disrupt hormonal processes and have an adverse effect on neurodevelopment. According to studies, BPA exposure may be associated with behavioral disorders in kids, such as hyperactivity and attention impairments.
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Neha Suryawanshi
Neha Suryawanshi



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