Exposure in pregnancy to a chemical commonly found in plastics and cans — known as bisphenol A, or BPA — may increase a child’s risk of breathing problems, researchers say.

In a study of nearly 400 pregnant women and their children, researchers found that each 10-fold increase of BPA in a mother’s urine was associated with a 14 percent decrease in the child’s breathing function at 4 years of age.

In addition, a 10-fold increase in BPA at 16 weeks’ gestation was associated with more than four times the likelihood of persistent wheezing at age 4, the study found. Persistent wheezing can be a sign of asthma.

“Maternal exposures to BPA during pregnancy may affect a child’s future lung health,” said lead researcher Dr. Adam Spanier, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

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