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Thursday, January 22nd, 2015
New 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
Image: Pregnant Woman via Shuttershock
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Thursday, December 11th, 2014
Don’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.
Baby products that don’t contain phthalates:
Image: Group of pregnant bellies via Shutterstock
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Thursday, November 21st, 2013
More than 200,000 toy dolls shipped to the United States from China for the holiday gift-giving season were seized by U.S. authorities because the dolls were found to contain phthalates, a toxic chemical that has been linked to premature births, among other health risks. More from CNN.com:
The toys contained high levels of phthalates, which are chemical plasticizers used to make materials softer and more pliable, authorities said. Congress has banned the chemical in children’s toys.
The U.S. Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center began targeting the shipments in April because they threatened children’s safety, authorities said.
“Using advanced technology to track certain shipments before they reach our shores is helping CPSC better protect America’s consumers,” Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in a statement.
U.S. authorities didn’t identify the manufacturer of the toys Tuesday.
A total of 10 shipments valued at almost $500,000 were seized at the ports of Chicago; Dallas; Los Angeles; Norfolk, Virginia; Memphis, Tennessee; Newark, New Jersey; Portland, Oregon; and Savannah, Georgia, authorities said.
Tenenbaum said her agency and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection have been targeting dangerous imports at several major ports through the use of a risk management system. Those efforts resulted in the seizure of more than 1.1 million unsafe products last fiscal year, authorities said. At the same time, the system also allows “for faster processing of compliant products,” she said.
Image: Toy doll, via Shutterstock
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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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Tuesday, August 28th, 2012
The shiny new lunchbox that makes your child so proud? It may contain high levels of phthalates, chemicals that were banned from toys and have been linked to multiple health problems, according to a new report from the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
The report found that lunch boxes, backpacks, and 3-ring binders made of PVC (also known as vinyl) can contain elevated levels of phthalates, LAWeekly reported. Here’s more:
The study tested 20 children’s products now on store shelves, all popular back-to-school purchases, and discovered that 75% contained elevated levels of phthalates, a class of chemical considered hazardous even at low levels of exposure. Phthalates are used to soften polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and are contained in hundreds of other products, including food packaging, detergents, shower curtains, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
CHEJ found high levels of phthalates in the Disney Princess Lunchbox, the Amazing Spiderman Lunchbox, the Access Bag N Pack Lunch Bag, and the Amazing Spiderman Backpack, among other products.
Scientists disagree about the effects of phthalates in humans, but studies link them to a range of health problems including asthma, developmental delays, and diabetes. Schumer is co-sponsor of the Safe Chemicals Act, which would give the Environmental Protection Agency more authority to regulate chemicals in consumer products.
CHEJ offers this guide to help parents choose vinyl- and PVC-free school supplies.
Image: Spiderman Backpack via CHEJ
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