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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Wednesday, September 19th, 2012
A new study is reporting that bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in some plastics and food cans, may, in addition to causing a host of health risks, raise the risks that children will become obese. Though BPA has been removed from many plastic children’s toys, bottles, sippy cups, and food packages, it has not been banned from use.
In a nationally representative study of nearly 3,000 children and teens, researchers found that kids with the highest levels of BPA in their urine were 2.6 times more likely to be obese compared to those with low levels of the chemical. The report was published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
It’s the latest evidence that obesity might be affected by more than just diet and exercise, said Dr. Leonardo Trasande, a professor of pediatrics and environmental medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.
“Clearly poor diet and lack of physical activity contribute to increased fat mass, but the story doesn’t end there,” he said.
Image: Childhood obesity sign, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
Bisphenol A, or BPA, has been slowly disappearing from toys, food packaging and food service items since it was revealed to have health risks including cancer, sexual dysfunction, and heart disease. The issue is particularly important for children, as BPA levels–detectable in the blood and urine of pregnant women, and in the umbilical cord blood of infants–is believed to impact fetal and child development alike.
The fight to have BPA banned from all food service items was escalated late last week when Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass. petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ban it. The Washington Post reports that Markey’s argument is not based on the health risks of BPA, but rather is based on the obsolescence of the material:
Markey did not premise his request on the chemical’s potential dangers. Instead, he used a provision that allows people to petition for changes to food additive rules if it can be shown that an additive’s old use has been abandoned. Markey’s office polled the food industry and found that major manufacturers no longer use BPA in their food packaging. Using this “abandonment” clause enables the government to sidestep the debate over whether BPA is safe and still bar the chemical’s use.
In three separate petitions, Markey is asking FDA to ban the chemical’s use in the packages of three types of household products: infant formula and baby/toddler food, canned foods and beverages, and small reusable food containers.
The four companies that make nearly all the nation’s formula said they no longer use BPA, according to the petition. Seven other companies that make canned foods said they either no longer use BPA or they are phasing it out. Seven firms that make reusable containers, such as Tupperware and Glad, said they have either never used BPA or have stopped using it.
The FDA has previously stipulated that BPA carries health risks, but has stopped short of banning it saying that it is safe in small doses.
Image: Plastic baby bottle, via Shutterstock.
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Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
A new study suggests that phthalates, chemicals used to make plastic products flexible, may delay child development, The Washington Post reports.
Sometimes called plasticizers, phthalates are used in thousands of products, from shower curtains and garden hoses to water bottles and hairspray. Although scientists suspect that they cause health problems, little data has confirmed their effect on people.
The Post described this new study:
A small study conducted by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives measured levels of four kinds of phthalates in the urine of 319 non-smoking pregnant women. When the children born of those pregnancies were three years old, the researchers assessed their mental, motor and behavioral development.
The study found that phthalates exposure during pregnancy was associated with increased risk of motor delay, a condition that could potentially translate to problems with fine and gross motor skills later in life, according to the study. One of the phthalates was associated with “significant” decreases in mental development among girls; among boys and girls, three of the phthalates were associated with behavior problems such as anxiety and depression, “emotionally reactive behavior” and withdrawn behavior.
More studies are needed because it’s unclear how exactly phthalates act on the body, researchers wrote. These findings “raise a public health concern,” but “should be interpreted with caution,” they said.
(image via: http://momsgoinggreenblog.com)
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