Babies who are exposed to a controversial chemical found in receipts may be more at risk of breathing difficulties in later life, research suggests.
Scientists at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health analysed urine samples from more than 2,600 expectant mothers.
They found women who had 'high levels' of bisphenol A (BPA) in their waste were 13 per cent more likely to have a child who wheezed. These youngsters were also more at risk of poor lung function, the results showed.
The researchers warned that lower lung function in early life makes children more vulnerable to killer lung diseases, such as COPD, in later life.
BPA - also found in cosmetics and plastic bottles - is thought to disrupt hormones and alter 'many body functions', including the lungs.
Babies in the womb may be particularly vulnerable due to them being less able to remove 'toxic substances' and their respiratory system still developing.
However, an expert has called the data 'limited', adding it is unclear whether it is statistically significant or 'simply due to chance'.
Babies who are exposed to a chemical in receipts, cosmetics and plastic bottles during pregnancy may be more at risk of lung damage in later life, research suggests (stock)
BPA, which belongs to a class of chemicals called phenols, is used in the manufacturing of food containers, cans and toys to name a few.
'Phenols are chemicals we are continuously exposed to in our daily lives and BPA is the most commonly used phenol,' lead author Alicia Abellan said.
'Phenols are known to be 'endocrine disruptors', which means they can interfere with the hormone system and consequently alter many essential body functions, including the respiratory and immune systems.
'When babies are still in the womb, they are especially vulnerable to these substances because they have not yet established the ability to remove toxic substances, and their respiratory and immune systems are still developing.'
To assess the consequences of BPA exposure during pregnancy, the scientists looked at 2,685 pregnant women who collectively took part in eight European research projects.
Of the participants, 79 per cent had detectable levels of BPA in their urine.
Less common phenols like bisphenol S and bisphenol F were also present but to a lesser extent.
Results showed the women who had higher levels of BPA in their urine were more likely to have children who wheezed.
What are parabens?
Parabens are hormone-disrupting chemicals, which are used as preservatives in skincare, cosmetics and hair products.
They mimic oestrogen and may cause cancer, weight gain and reduced muscle mass.
What is BPA?
The so-called 'gender-bending' chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) is added to receipts to make their writing appear darker without using ink.
It reacts with oestrogen and thyroid-hormone receptors, and has been linked to infertility, autism, ADHD, obesity, type 2 diabetes, premature births and early onset of puberty.
Health fears prompted BPA to be replaced with its 'healthier alternative' Bisphenol S (BPS), however, evidence suggests BPS disrupts babies' development in the womb.
Exposure to BPA, which is also found in the lining of canned foods, also causes the same inflammation and gut bacteria changes in mice that occur in Crohn's and ulcerative colitis patients.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned BPA from baby bottles, while The European Commission prohibits the chemical from being added to receipts from 2020.
What is triclosan?
Triclosan, a chemical added to personal-care products to prevent bacterial contamination, has been linked to reduced heart health and an underactive thyroid.
It is added to antibacterial soaps, body washes, toothpastes and cosmetics, as well as some clothing, furniture and toys.
Triclosan also stops infections