Chemical in plastic linked to kids’ asthma
It’s a common chemical found in plastic, but it has a horrible reputation for being a risk to children’s health — so bad that the FDA banned its use in manufacturing sippy cups and baby bottles.
The chemical is bisphenol A, or BPA. It has been linked to obesity, glucose intolerance and behavior disorders. A recent study has now added another offense to its rap sheet— raising the risk of childhood asthma.
Researchers at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health found that children who were exposed to even low doses of BPA after birth were at higher risk for wheezing and asthma.
“Asthma prevalence has increased dramatically over the past 30 years, which suggests that some as-yet-undiscovered environmental exposures may be implicated. Our study indicates that one such exposure may be BPA,” said lead author Kathleen Donohue, MD, in a statement. The study was published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
The researchers’ discovery came from analyzing urine samples from 568 pregnant women. The samples were first taken during their third trimesters and then after the children were born at ages 3, 5, and 7. After accounting for other asthma inducers, like second-hand smoke, researchers found that BPA raised the risk for wheezing and asthma.
Even though 90 percent of the children had detectable levels of BPA, it does not mean that they all will develop asthma. “Just as smoking increases the risk of lung cancer but not everyone who smokes gets lung cancer, not every child exposed to BPA will develop asthma,” Donohue explained in the statement.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences recommends the following steps to avoid BPA exposure:
- Avoid microwaving polycarbonate plastic food containers
- Reduce canned food consumption
- Use glass, porcelain or stainless steel, especially for hot food and liquids
- Avoid plastic containers marked with the recycle code 3 or 7
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