Pay Attention To What You Buy – BPA Exposure Is Really, Really Bad For Kids

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shutterstock_18514069Admittedly, when it comes to child safety there are things I know nothing about. I just try to pay attention to the newest health alerts and keep my child as safe as possible. I got rid of the crib bumper. I don’t buy toys that say “choking hazard.” We’ve got safety straps on our TV. And when it comes to buying plastic goods like bottles and sippy cups – I always buy the ones that say, “BPA Free.”

Honestly, I never had any idea what BPA was or did – I just knew that if not including it in something was reason to advertise it – it must be bad. So I avoided it. Well, I finally read up on what it actually does to children. It’s pretty horrifying. From Yahoo News:

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is commonly used to line food and beverage cans, and helps to keep plastics flexible, but studies suggest the compound can leach into the foods we eat. High levels of BPA in the urine have been tied to behavior problems, obesity, hormone abnormalities and even kidney and heart problems. Now, new research from scientists at the Columbia Center of Children’s Environmental Health is linking the compound to an increased risk for asthma.

This new research was conducted at  Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and spearheaded by Dr. Kathleen Donohue, an assistant professor of Medicine. The study followed 568 women, measuring BPA levels in their urine during their third trimester of pregnancy, and also tested their kids’ urine for BPA when they were aged 3, 5 and 7. The results were pretty disturbing:

Each time the children were evaluated, more than 90% of the kids had detectable levels of BPA. The higher their BPA levels, the more wheezing and asthma the researchers found. But higher levels of BPA in pregnant moms  during the third trimester of pregnancy were associated with lower rates of wheezing in children at age 5. That confirms previous work that showed that the timing of exposure to the chemical may be important when it comes to asthma risk. In that study, expectant moms with higher BPA levels early on in pregnancy were more likely to have children who developed asthma.

The study shows that timing of the exposure greatly influences how children’s health will be affected. In addition to higher levels early on in pregnancy being seen as a factor for future problems with asthma in children, was role infant exposure to BPA plays in possible future problems with asthma. Plastic bottles and sippy cups are possibly raising infant exposure levels to BPA.

So even though bottles, sippy cups, and flatware for children tends to be a little more expensive when it advertises “BPA Free” – if the health implications of this study are correct, it’s definitely worth the extra money to avoid it. It is also worth researching if the formula you use actually uses BPA to line its containers. Disturbing. A list of common places you may find the harmful chemical is here. Also, don’t assume buying expensive organic baby food will save your child from exposure. Always try to research whether companies use it in their packaging.

(photo: Christy Thompson/