They also found children exposed to BPA after birth had an increased risk of wheezing and asthma. This finding remained even after the researchers took secondhand smoke and other factors linked to asthma into account.
However, Donohue's group found no link between the risk for asthma and exposure to BPA during the third trimester.
That finding runs counter to a previous study that showed exposure to BPA during the second trimester was associated with an increased risk for asthma, the researchers noted.
The biological connections between BPA and asthma aren't clear and not every child exposed to the chemical is destined to develop asthma, the researchers say. It might have to do with BPA's effect on the immune system, but that's only a guess, Donohue said.
One expert isn't convinced that BPA is really connected to the risk for asthma.
"You cannot say it's a cause -- it's an association. It doesn't mean the chemical is causing asthma," said Dr. Claudia Fernandez, a pediatric pulmonologist at Miami Children's Hospital.
"I would not recommend that my patients avoid the chemical based on this article," she added.
The study acknowledged several limitations, including finding only a "modest" association between BPA concentrations and participants' wheezing and asthma.
Because of the potential health risk, however, there has been pressure on the federal government to ban the chemical, especially in food containers. In July 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups.
Another expert weighed in on the possible connection between the chemical and asthma.
"Certainly, we know there are environmental reasons for asthma, including secondhand smoke, " said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City.
As for BPA, "it is really unclear what the mechanism is,
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