Chemicals such as bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA, are ubiquitous in the food supply. Used in the lining of food and beverage cans as well as in many plastics, this controversial substance may leach into food, especially when exposed to heat. Now, a new study is showing that there may be a link between BPA exposure and child asthma risk.
The BPA/Asthma Connection
Dr. Kathleen Donohue and her colleagues at the Columbia Center of Children’s Environmental Health conducted a study that looked at the BPA levels in the urine of 568 pregnant women and their children, starting in the third trimester of pregnancy and following up at ages 3, 5 and 7. The study showed that children with higher urinary levels of the chemical were more likely to develop wheezing and asthma between ages 5 and 12.
One anomaly in the study showed that children whose mothers had high levels during the third trimester of pregnancy exhibited less wheezing at age 5, standing in contrast to a previous study showing that exposure during earlier trimesters increased asthma risk. This suggests that timing is an important factor when it comes to the effects of this chemical on child asthma.
While it’s uncertain what causes the BPA and asthma link, there are several theories as to how the chemical influences a child’s development. It exhibits hormone-like properties that create a weak estrogen-like effect, potentially altering gene expression. Other theories related to asthma development include changes in immune response as well as increased production of nitric oxide, which may affect inflammatory response.
Sources of BPA Exposure
Until July of 2012, the FDA allowed the use of bisphenol A in baby bottles, sippy cups and other products commonly used by young children. Fortunately, there are many options for parents looking to minimize their children’s exposure to environmental chemicals. Dozens of BPA-free products exist, from water bottles and utensils to toys and teething rings. Increased awareness of and concern about chemical exposure has caused many food companies to begin manufacturing BPA-free containers for their products as well.
While it may be impossible to avoid chemical exposure altogether, it’s important to do everything possible to minimize kids’ exposure, especially during critical times in their development. The BPA and asthma link will likely be explored more in the future, providing a clearer picture of how the chemical affects overall health.
If you believe your child has asthma and he or she has never been tested before, give the wonderful asthma doctors at Asthma and Allergy Associates a call today to schedule a testing time for your child! Also, to prevent any questions or concerns, purchase ONLY BPA FREE products!