BPA fillings may cause behavioral problems
Children who get dental fillings made with a chemical called bisphenol A (BPA) are more likely to develop emotional and behavioural problems a few years later, according to a new study.
Researchers recorded a small effect on behaviour in children who have received fillings containing BPA, part of a plastic composite which is favoured in dental surgery because of its more ‘natural looking’ tooth colouring. After five years, parents and kids answered a series of questions about anxiety, depression, attitudes at school and overall behaviour.
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Researchers found that kids who had multiple fillings made using BPA (and who’d had those fillings for a while) scored two to six points worse on a 100-point behaviour measures than those who had had none of those fillings.
Behaviour problems were especially common in children who’d had the fillings for a long time, particularly in those who had fillings on chewing surfaces. This supports the idea that some fillings begin to break down over time with chewing, and leach certain chemicals.
This study could be linked to previous research which linked prenatal exposure to BPA with hyperactivity and anxiety, particularly in girls.
The overall effects of BPA are still unclear, however. Researchers are still unclear as to how much chemical content leaches from BPA plastics, which are also used in food packaging and canned goods. This study did not measure the BPA levels, and had no way of knowing if the fillings were leaching out other chemicals.
Nancy Maserejian from New England Research Institutes in Watertown, Massachusetts conducted the study. She told Reuters Health: "It's a controversial topic in dental research, how much really does leach (from fillings)… and whether or not that would have an effect. It's generally assumed that the amounts leached are tiny."
“We didn't measure BPA, and we don't know whether BPA was in (the fillings)," added Maserejian "There are other chemicals used in these composites, and BPA isn't directly used in them. We don't really know what the health effects of these other chemicals are."
She assured parents that they shouldn’t be worried, claiming that the average difference in behaviour issues between kids with different types of fillings “would not be noticeable for most children”.