© iStockphotoBy Sasha Emmons
Asthma has been on the rise for the last 30 years, but why? Researchers think they have found one possible connection: exposure to Bisphenol-A, commonly known as BPA.
BPA has previously been linked to ADHD and obesity, among other health issues, but this is the first study to link early childhood exposure to asthma. "We found that post-natal BPA exposure is associated with increased odds of wheeze and asthma in young children," says Kathleen Donohue, MD, an investigator at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health and lead author of the study. "Specifically, BPA exposure measured at ages three, five and seven years was associated with increased odds of wheeze at ages five, six and seven years, and increased odds of asthma between ages five and twelve years."
An earlier study found that exposure to BPA during the second trimester of pregnancy was associated with increased risk of wheeze in younger children. However, in this study, third trimester exposure did not correlate with increased risk of asthma later in life.
How could BPA lead to asthma? Scientists still aren't sure, and say more research is needed. "The current study found no evidence that exposure to BPA increased the risk that the immune system would develop more antibodies to common airborne allergens," says Dr. Donohue. "Other possible pathways may include changes to the innate immune system, but this remains an open question."
BPA has been banned in baby bottles and sippy cups, but remains in many other products families use, including surprising spots like the thermal cash register receipt paper. To minimize exposure, parents should:
-Avoid plastic with the recycling symbols 3, 6 and 7
-Eat less canned food
-Where possible, choose glass, porcelain or stainless stele containers, especially for hot food or liquids