Posts Tagged ‘ chemicals ’

ANOTHER Reason to Avoid BPA During Pregnancy

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

PregnantBellyNew research suggests that prenatal exposure to bisphenol A, or BPA, may cause your child to develop health issues, like diabetes and heart disease, later in life. BPA is an hormone-disrupting chemical used to manufacture plastics, such as plastic bottles, metal cans, and even cash register receipts.

The study, which was published in the journal Endocrinology, reveals that exposure to the chemical can potentially cause a type of oxidative stress, called nitrosative stress, in the mother and unborn baby. Oxidative stress occurs when the body cannot neutralize free radicals (or highly-reactive chemicals) quickly enough to correct an imbalance.

Data was collected from 24 pregnant women to measure the effect of BPA exposure. During the first trimester, blood was drawn to evaluate the women’s BPA levels. Then the women were divided into two groups—those with low levels of BPA and those with high levels. After the babies were delivered, blood from the umbilical cords was tested to conclude how much chemical byproduct was created.

“The blood analysis revealed that the human mothers exposed to higher levels of BPA, and their infants, showed signs of oxidative stress caused by overexposure to nitric oxide-derived free radicals,” reports ScienceDaily.com. There were large amounts of chemical byproducts in the blood.

The FDA states that BPA is not harmful at the current levels that it occurs in our foods, but many studies provide evidence to dispute this claim. A recent study noted the dangers of prenatal exposure to phthalates, another chemical found in plastics. All in all, it’s better to be safe, and expecting moms should limit their exposure to the chemical until there is firm scientific consensus about BPA’s affects.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Pregnancy Myths: What Should You Believe?
Pregnancy Myths: What Should You Believe?
Pregnancy Myths: What Should You Believe?

Image: Pregnant Woman via Shuttershock

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Prenatal Exposure to Phthalates May Cause Lower IQs in Children

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Pregnant women belliesDon’t be surprised if “phthalates-free” labels become more important than ever. A new study released by the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City has linked the harmful chemicals to a decrease in children’s IQ, reports HealthDay News. The study was published yesterday in the science journal PLOS ONE.

The study centered on 328 mothers and children from low-income backgrounds in New York City. Researchers analyzed how the exposure to five types of phthalates during the third trimester of each woman’s pregnancy affected her children’s IQ at 7-years-old. Each woman’s urine was measured for chemicals during pregnancy, and later on, each school-age child was given an IQ test.

Results showed that children whose mothers had the highest exposure to two phthalates (DnBP and DiBP) had IQs that were at least 7 points lower than children whose mothers had lower exposure to the chemicals. The three other phthalates (BBP, DEHP, and DEP) did not seem to have any significant affects on children’s intellect.

Phthalates are chemicals that are commonly added to plastics as stabilizers. “Depending on the specific phthalate, they are used to make plastic flexible, as adhesive and as additives to cosmetics, air fresheners and cleaning products, as several ‘hold’ scents,” says Pam Factor-Litvak, Ph.D., the study’s author and an associate professor of epidemiology at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. According to the CPSC, paints and inks can contain phthalates. CBSNews adds that the two specific phthalates, DnBP and DiBP, can also be found in products like “vinyl upholstery, shower curtains, plastic food containers, raincoats, dryer sheets…”

Even though this study is not conclusive that pthalates are the definite cause of low intellectual development, the results add to the ongoing belief that exposure to phthalates can have toxic negative long-term affects. Other research studies have shown that phthalates can disrupt hormones, cause physical defects (cleft palates and skeletal malformations), increase asthma, and lead to insulin resistance, reports CBSNews.

Manufacturers are not obligated to include labels that point out their products contain phthalates, but Congress permanently bans three types of phthalates (BBP, DEHP, DBP) from being used in amounts greater than 0.1 percent in children’s toys and children’s products related to feeding, sleeping, sucking, and teething. Three other phthalates (DINP, DIDP, DnOP) are also banned from children’s products on an interim basis. “While these regulatory actions were taken to protect young children, there have been no regulatory actions to protect the developing fetus in utero, which is often the time of greatest susceptibility,” Dr. Factor-Litvak noted.

Avoiding all phthalates is impossible, but it is possible to reduce your exposure to them. Dr. Factor-Litvak suggests that food never be microwaved in plastic containers and that scented products (such as personal care and cleaning products) never be used. Also, “avoid use of plastics labeled as #3, #6 and #7 as these contain phthalates as well as BPA (bisphenol A), and store food in glass rather than plastic containers as much as possible,” she adds.

Hair Dye and Nail Polish During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?
Hair Dye and Nail Polish During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?
Hair Dye and Nail Polish During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?

Baby products that don’t contain phthalates:

 

Image: Group of pregnant bellies via Shutterstock

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Kids Exposed to Brain-Harming Chemicals at Record Levels

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

American children are exposed to at least double the levels of chemicals that are known to affect the brain in ways that are linked with disorders including autism, ADHD, and dyslexia–all disorders that have been on the rise in recent years.  Time.com reports on new research that has found radical changes in chemical exposure since 2006:

In 2006, scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai identified five industrial chemicals responsible for causing harm to the brain — lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (found in electric transformers, motors and capacitors), arsenic (found in soil and water as well as in wood preservatives and pesticides) and toluene (used in processing gasoline as well as in paint thinner, fingernail polish and leather tanning). Exposure to these neurotoxins was associated with changes in neuron development in the fetus as well as among infants, and with lower school performance, delinquent behavior, neurological abnormalities and reduced IQ in school-age children.

Now the same researchers have reviewed the literature and found six additional industrial chemicals that can hamper normal brain development. These are manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, tetrachloroethylene and polybrominated diphenyl ethers. Manganese, they say, is found in drinking water and can contribute to lower math scores and heightened hyperactivity, while exposure to high levels of fluoride from drinking water can contribute to a seven-point drop in IQ on average. The remaining chemicals, which are found in solvents and pesticides, have been linked to deficits in social development and increased aggressive behaviors.

The research team acknowledges that there isn’t a causal connection between exposure to any single chemical and behavioral or neurological problems — it’s too challenging to isolate the effects of each chemical to come to such conclusions. But they say the growing body of research that is finding links between higher levels of these chemicals in expectant mothers’ blood and urine and brain disorders in their children should raise alarms about how damaging these chemicals can be. The developing brain in particular, they say, is vulnerable to the effects of these chemicals, and in many cases, the changes they trigger are permanent.

“The consequence of such brain damage is impaired [central nervous system] function that lasts a lifetime and might result in reduced intelligence, as expressed in terms of lost IQ points, or disruption in behavior,” they write in their report, which was published in the journal Lancet Neurology.

They point to two barriers to protecting children from such exposures — not enough testing of industrial chemicals and their potential effect on brain development before they are put into widespread use, and the enormous amount of proof that regulatory agencies require in order to put restrictions or limitations on chemicals.

Image: Chemical pesticides, via Shutterstock

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Plastics, Chemicals Used in Cosmetics Linked to Premature Births

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Exposure to phthalates, a type of chemical used in certain plastics and cosmetics, has been linked in a recent study to an elevated risk that pregnant women will deliver their babies prematurely.  More from Reuters:

Researchers found that women who delivered babies before 37 weeks gestation had higher levels of phthalates in their urine, compared to women who delivered their children at full term, which is 39 weeks.

Preterm birth is a real public health problem,” said John Meeker, who led the study. “We’re not really sure how to go about preventing it, but this may shed light on environmental factors that people may want to be educated in.”

Meeker, from the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor, added, “We knew that exposure to phthalates was virtually ubiquitous here in the U.S. and possibly worldwide and preterm births increased for unknown reasons over the past several decades.”

Phthalates are included in products for a variety of reasons, include to make plastic flexible.

Image: Lipsticks, via Shutterstock

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BPA Linked to Miscarriage Risk

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

The chemical compound called bisphenol-A (BPA), which is found in many plastics and food can linings, has been linked to a heightened miscarriage risk in women who struggled to conceive or have experienced repeated miscarriages.  The finding comes from a new study presented this week to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.  More from The Associated Press:

The work is not nearly enough to prove a link, but it adds to ‘‘the biological plausibility’’ that BPA might affect fertility and other aspects of health, said Dr. Linda Giudice, a California biochemist who is president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. The study was to be presented Monday at the group’s annual conference in Boston. Last month, ASRM and an obstetricians group urged more attention to environmental chemicals and their potential hazards for pregnant women.

BPA, short for bisphenol-A, and certain other environmental chemicals can have very weak, hormone-like effects. Tests show BPA in nearly everyone’s urine, though the chemical has been removed from baby bottles and many reusable drink containers in recent years. The federal Food and Drug Administration says BPA is safe as used now in other food containers.

Most miscarriages are due to egg or chromosome problems, and a study in mice suggested BPA might influence that risk, said Dr. Ruth Lathi, a Stanford University reproductive endocrinologist.

With a federal grant, she and other researchers studied 115 newly pregnant women with a history of infertility or miscarriage; 68 wound up having miscarriages and 47 had live births.

Researchers say it is virtually impossible to avoid exposure to BPA completely.  The AP offers some tips on how to minimize exposure:

To minimize BPA exposure, avoid cooking or warming food in plastic because heat helps the chemical leak out, she said. Don’t leave water bottles in the sun, limit use of canned foods and avoid handling cash register receipts, which often are coated with resins that contain BPA.

Image: Food can, via Shutterstock

Get our Everything Pregnancy blogger’s take on the link between BPA and your miscarriage risk here.

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