The potential for behavioral and other effects of BPA to be inherited by subsequent generations

Effects of maternal or paternal bisphenol A exposure on offspring behavior

2018 Study Highlights

  • No significant behavioral effects of preconception paternal BPA exposure.
  • Increased anxiety-like behavior in juvenile offspring maternally exposed to BPA.
  • Increased duration and median frequency of ultrasonic vocalizations in BPA pups.
  • Females outperform males in an operant reversal learning task.
  • BPA females earn fewer rewards than control females during operant training.


Bisphenol A (BPA) is an endocrine disrupting chemical used in the production of polycarbonate plastics and resins. Exposure to BPA during gestation has been proposed as a risk factor for the development of neurobehavioral disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder. To address the behavioral impact of developmental exposure to BPA, we tested offspring of mice exposed to a daily low dose of BPA during pregnancy. We also asked if preconception exposure of the sire affected behaviors in offspring.

Sires that consumed BPA for 50 days prior to mating weighed less than controls, but no effects on any reproductive measures were noted. Juvenile offspring exposed to BPA maternally, but not paternally, spent less time in the open arms of the elevated plus maze than controls, indicating increased anxiety-like behavior. However, neither parental exposure group differed significantly from controls in the social recognition task.

We also assessed the behaviors of maternally exposed offspring in two novel tasks: ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) in pups and operant reversal learning in adults.

Maternal BPA exposure increased the duration and median frequency of USVs emitted by pups during maternal separation. In the reversal learning task, females responded more accurately and earned more rewards than males. Additionally, control females received more rewards than BPA females during the acquisition phase of the task.

These are among the first studies conducted to ask if BPA exposure via the sire affects offspring behavior and the first study to report effects of gestational BPA exposure on pup USVs and adult operant responding.

About DES and the BRAIN ;

Have your say! Share your views