Prenatal bisphenol A exposure and maternally reported behavior in boys and girls

Neurotoxicology. 2014 Dec;45:91-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2014.10.003. Epub 2014 Oct 13.


Prenatal exposure to gonadal hormones plays a major role in the normal development of the male and female brain and sexually dimorphic behaviors. Hormone-dependent differences in brain structure and function suggest that exposure to exogenous endocrine disrupting chemicals may be associated with sex-specific alterations in behavior. Bisphenol A (BPA) is an environmental chemical that has been shown to alter estrogen, androgen, and thyroid hormone signaling pathways. Epidemiological and experimental studies suggest associations between prenatal exposure to BPA and child behavior, however data are inconsistent, and few studies have examined school age children. We examined BPA concentration in spot urine samples from women at mean 27 weeks of pregnancy in relation to child behavior assessed at age 6-10 years using the parent-completed Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). We report associations between maternal BPA urinary concentrations and several CBCL scores in 153 children (77 boys and 76 girls). We observed a significant interaction between maternal urinary BPA and sex for several behaviors (externalizing, aggression, Anxiety Disorder, Oppositional/Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder traits), but no significant associations between BPA and scores on any CBCL scales. However in analyses restricted to children of mothers with detectable prenatal urinary BPA (n=125), BPA was associated with moderately increased internalizing and externalizing behaviors, withdrawn/depressed behavior, somatic problems, and Oppositional/Defiant Disorder traits in boys. In addition we observed a significant interaction between BPA and sex for several behaviors (externalizing, withdrawn/depressed, rule-breaking, Oppositional/Defiant Disorder traits, and Conduct Disorder traits). These results suggest that prenatal exposure to BPA may be related to increased behavior problems in school age boys, but not girls.

Keywords: Bisphenol A; Child behavior problems; Children; Epidemiology.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / drug effects
  • Anxiety / chemically induced
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / chemically induced
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / toxicity*
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / urine
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / drug effects*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity*
  • Endocrine Disruptors / urine
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phenols / toxicity*
  • Phenols / urine
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / psychology*


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Phenols
  • bisphenol A