BPA exposure can shorten reproductive life, chromosomal changes and cause birth defects, says a new study.

In research carried out on rhesus monkeys with human-like reproductive system, researchers at the Washington State University and University of California, Davis, found that BPA exposure led to many changes in the reproductive life of the mammal.

Bisphenol A or BPA is a chemical used in plastics and epoxy resins. The chemical has many applications and is found in water bottles, cups, impact resistant materials and compact discs. Epoxy resin is used to coat metal products such as food cans, bottles and cups.

"The concern is exposure to this chemical that we're all exposed to could increase the risk of miscarriages and the risk of babies born with birth defects like Down Syndrome," said Patricia Hunt, one of the study authors.

In the research, female monkeys at different stages of gestation were exposed to BPA. The researchers found that at the early stages, the egg failed to develop. They found that such an exposure to BPA can lead to miscarriages or severe birth defects in the offspring.

"The really stunning thing about the effect is we're dosing grandma, it's crossing the placenta and hitting her developing fetus, and if that fetus is a female, it's changing the likelihood that that female is going to ovulate normal eggs. It's a three-for-one hit," said Hunt.

The researchers also found that pregnant monkeys that were exposed to BPA during the third trimester didn't have adequate follicle covering around the egg. Without adequate structural support, the eggs fail to grow and develop.

"That's not good because it looks to us like you're just throwing away a huge number of the eggs that a female would have. It raises concerns about whether or not she's going to have a really short reproductive lifespan," said Hunt.

According to estimates, about 93 percent Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their body. BPA has some effects on children's behavior, brain and changes in prostate glands of infants. There is also some evidence regarding BPA exposure and altered time of puberty in girls, says the Food and Drug Administration.

The study was been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.