Prenatal exposure to the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) has been linked to poorer behavior in children in previous studies. However, exposure to BPA in bisphenol-A-glycidyl-methacrylate-based dental composite is also linked to worse psychosocial outcomes in children, says a new study published in the August 2012 issue of the journal Pediatrics.
In the present study conducted by researchers at the New England Research Institutes in Watertown, Massachusetts, the researchers sought to determine whether greater exposure to BPA in dental composites is associated with psychosocial problems in children.
For the study, data was collected on 534 children between 6 and 10 years old from six community dental clinics in Boston and Maine between 1997 and 2005. The children were randomly assigned to treatment plans consisting of either bisphenol-A-glycidyl-methacrylate-based composite or urethane-dimethacrylate-based polyacid-modiﬁed composite for subsequent dental work.
To determine a link, if any, between exposure to BPA in dental work and psychosocial problems in children, psychosocial assessments were also made on the children participating in the study using two validated instruments, the Child Behavior Checklist parent-report and the Behavior Assessment for Children Self-Report, both of which are widely used in screening children and teenagers for psychosocial problems.
According to the study, increased exposure to BPA in dental work is associated with an increased risk for psychosocial problems among children. The greater the exposure to BPA, the greater the increase in risk.
Children with the highest exposure to BPA in dental work were more likely to report more anxiety, depression, social stress, and interpersonal relation problems. Parents were also more likely to report psychosocial problems in children assigned to the bisphenol-A-glycidyl-methacrylate-based composite group.
The use of other non-BPA-based types of dental composites was not linked to impaired psychosocial problems among the children.
As the researchers conclude:
“Greater exposure to bisGMA-based dental composite restorations was associated with impaired psychosocial function in children, whereas no adverse psychosocial outcomes were observed with greater urethane dimethacrylate-based compomer or amalgam treatment levels.”
The results of this study are in stark contrast with previous statements about the safety of BPA-based composites from the American Dental Association (ADA). In a statement issued two years ago, the ADA maintains that the benefits of dental materials containing BPA outweigh any risks:
“According to the CDC, dental caries remains the most common chronic disease of children aged 5 to 17 years—5 times more common than asthma (59% versus 11%).4 Untreated cavities can cause pain, dysfunction, absence from school, and poor appearance—problems that can greatly affect a child’s quality of life. The utility of composite resin materials for both restoring dental health and preventing caries is well established, while any health risks from their use are not. The ADA fully supports continued research into the safety of BPA; but, based on current evidence, the ADA does not believe there is a basis for health concerns relative to BPA exposure from any dental material. “
In the same statement, the ADA summarizes:
“The ADA is a professional association of dentists committed to the public’s oral health. As such, the ADA supports ongoing research on the safety of existing dental materials and in the development of new materials. Based on current research the Association agrees with the authoritative government agencies that the low-level of BPA exposure that may result from dental sealants and composites poses no known health threat.”
However, the results of the present study on exposure to BPA and an increased risk for psychosocial problems in children may warrant that the ADA change its stance.
Are you worried about your child’s exposure to BPA?