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The exposure of pregnant women to an industrial chemical used extensively in food cans and plastic water bottles has been linked to obesity in their children, according to a new study by Columbia University in the US.

The researchers studying environmental hazards in low-income areas of New York tracked the presence of Bisphenol A (BPA) in 369 children from the third trimester to age 7 and found that the kids exposed to higher levels of BPA in the womb had a higher body percentage of body fat.

Lori Hoepner, an investigator at Columbia’s Center for Children’s Environmental Health and co-author of the study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, said:

“We’re seeing an association between prenatal exposure to BPA and measures of obesity at age 7”

Where BPA is Used?

  • Tinned Food – BPA resin is sometimes sprayed on the inside of tins to prevent the metal from contaminating food.
  • Drinks cans –  Some aluminium fizzy drink cans, including Coca-Cola, are lined with a BPA resin.
  • Glass jars – Some glass jars (including baby and toddler food ranges) have BPA in the lid.
  • Plastic bottles – BPA is found in polycarbonate bottles designed to carry water or baby milk.

“We think there is enough peer-reviewed evidence against Bisphenol A and other chemicals in plastics for the government to take a precautionary approach and ban them in any plastics that come into contact with food,” said Clare Dimmer of Breast Cancer UK in 2012.

And yet, in June 2015, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in the United States publishes its analysis of 252 canned food brands (mostly between January and August 2014) and found that over 75 brands use cans lined with BPA-laden epoxy for all their products.

Over the past few decades an estimated £150million has been spent on research into BPA, resulting in the publication of more than 5,000 papers – and scientists are still arguing over whether or not it is harmful.

Research has shown that compounds can leach from plastics into the food and drinks that we consume – more so if they are heated to high temperatures, raising additional concerns about the kinds of plastics that are used as containers in microwave ovens.

A landmark report on BPA published in 2008 by the U.S. National Toxicology Program concluded that there were concerns over BPA’s effects on the brain, behaviour and prostate gland development in foetuses, infants and children. It also found that because of the ratio of body weight to exposure, ‘the highest estimated daily intake of Bisphenol A in the general population occurs in infants and children’.

Tests by the U.S. Centers For Disease Control And Prevention in 2004 found BPA in 93 per cent of urine samples taken from a group of 2,517 people.

 

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