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Young children’s exposure to BPA continues: exposed at preschool age

Dominika Osmolska Psy.D.'s picture
Child drinks from a plastic bottle

Yikes – just as parents and caregivers across the nation have tossed their children’s plastic toys and bottles containing Bisphenol A (BPA), a study out in Environmental Science & Technology demonstrates that it is still leaching into preschoolers’ developing bodies. The estrogen-mimicking chemical found in baby bottles, food containers, and household electronics has been linked to a host of health problems in animals and people.

Now researchers have detected it in the environment and urine of young children, revealing that preschoolers absorb BPA primarily through the food they eat.

BPA is used to make hard plastics and epoxy resins. The latter are commonly found in the lining of cans. The BPA leaches into the food that it encloses. Sure enough, solid food was found to contain seven times more BPA than liquid. According to the study, levels of the chemical in the kids' urine were 10 times lower than limits declared safe by the EPA. But some scientists have been strongly arguing that those limits are way too high, said Arnold Schecter, a public health physician at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Dallas.

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The results come from an ongoing study started in 2001, when 257 preschoolers in North Carolina and Ohio were sampled for the presence of various environmental pollutants. The study continues to yield new insights as technology for the detection of various chemicals improves. The project has found that little kids are exposed to dozens of pollutants, including BPA, an endocrine disruptor which has been linked to conditions such as cancer, obesity, heart disease, infertility, and neurological disease.

Young organisms are most vulnerable to the effects of pollutants, since their bodies and homeostatic systems are in the process of formation, so it is troubling that young children’s food contains higher levels of BPA than that of adults. It is still not clear which foods delivered the largest doses of BPA, but since the chemical often appears in the linings of cans and in hard, clear polycarbonate plastic containers, it is reasonable to suppose that the storage and microwaving of food in plastic containers, as well as canned food, are likely suspects. The chemical has also been shown to migrate from plastic packaging into the food.

The finding underscores the importance of eating a fresh, whole-foods diet that is miniamally processed and cooked by traditional means.

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