Children exposed to the chemical BPA (bisphenol A), a common ingredient in many plastic containers, may run a higher risk of developing asthma.
In a report published in the March issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Dr. Kathleen Donohue, an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, in New York City said that the study’s findings “suggest that BPA exposure during childhood may increase the risk of asthma,” according to U.S. News HealthDay.
BPA is used in many plastic containers and in the linings of metal cans, and has even been found in store check-out receipts printed on thermal paper, U.S. News reports. The chemical has previously been linked to a number of health concerns, including increased blood sugar levels, breathing problems, obesity, and behavioral issues.
In their study, Dr. Davenport and her colleagues followed 568 women who took part in a study on mothers, newborns and environmental exposures, U.S. News reports. The researchers measured levels of a form of BPA that’s found in urine after exposure to the chemical. They began their measurements during the women’s third trimester of pregnancy and when the children were 3, 5, and 7 years old. Each time the researchers checked, 90 percent of the children had BPA in their bodies. The research team also found that children exposed to BPA after birth had an increased risk of wheezing and asthma. This finding remained even after the researchers took into account other factors linked to asthma.
The biological connections between BPA and asthma aren’t clear, the researchers say, and not every child exposed to the chemical is destined to develop asthma, U.S. News notes. “Our study suggests that BPA may be an important and understudied environmental risk factor for child asthma. What’s important is that we are observing increased risk of wheeze and asthma at fairly routine, low doses of exposure to BPA,” said Dr. Donohue, who is also an investigator with Columbia’s Center for Children’s Environmental Health.
In July 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned BPA in baby bottles and children’s sippy cups, and there is pressure on the federal government for a wider ban, U.S. News said. Experts, including the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, recommend that consumers avoid plastic containers with the numbers 3 and 7; eat less canned food; and choose glass, porcelain, or stainless steel containers, especially for storing or carrying hot food and liquids.