BOSTON (AP) - New research suggests that high levels of BPA, achemical in many plastics and canned food linings, might raise the riskof miscarriage in women prone to that problem or having trouble gettingpregnant.

The work is not nearly enough to prove a link, but it adds to "thebiological plausibility" that BPA might affect fertility and otheraspects of health, said Dr. Linda Giudice, a California biochemist whois president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Thestudy was to be presented Monday at the group's annual conference inBoston. Last month, ASRM and an obstetricians group urged more attentionto environmental chemicals and their potential hazards for pregnantwomen.

BPA, short for bisphenol-A, and certain other environmental chemicalscan have very weak, hormone-like effects. Tests show BPA in nearlyeveryone's urine, though the chemical has been removed from baby bottlesand many reusable drink containers in recent years. The federal Foodand Drug Administration says BPA is safe as used now in other foodcontainers.

Most miscarriages are due to egg or chromosome problems, and a studyin mice suggested BPA might influence that risk, said Dr. Ruth Lathi, aStanford University reproductive endocrinologist.

With a federal grant, she and other researchers studied 115 newlypregnant women with a history of infertility or miscarriage; 68 wound uphaving miscarriages and 47 had live births.

Researchers analyzed blood samples from when the women werediscovered to be pregnant and divided them into four groups based on BPAlevels. Women in the top quarter had an 80 percent greater risk ofmiscarriage compared to those in the bottom group even though they weresimilar in age and other factors. However, because the study isrelatively small, there was a big range of possible risk - from onlyslightly elevated to as much as 10 times higher.

"It may be that women with higher BPA levels do have other riskfactors" for miscarriage that might be amplified by BPA, Lathi said.

The study is not cause for alarm, but "it's far from reassuring that BPA is safe" for such women, she said.

To minimize BPA exposure, avoid cooking or warming food in plasticbecause heat helps the chemical leak out, she said. Don't leave waterbottles in the sun, limit use of canned foods and avoid handling cashregister receipts, which often are coated with resins that contain BPA.

"It's impossible to avoid it completely," Lathi said.

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