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BPA Chemical Exposure Increases Risk for Childhood Asthma

Update Date: Mar 01, 2013 01:02 PM EST

Parents now have to be more selective when buying household items that may contribute to childhood asthma. According to a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers a the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health discovered a connection between childhood asthma and the chemical bisphenol A (BPA). They found that young children who were exposed to BPA more often than other children have a higher risk of developing asthma.

The researchers were concerned about the growing trend of childhood asthma over the past few decades. "Asthma prevalence has increased dramatically over the past 30 years, which suggests that some as-yet-undiscovered environmental exposures may be implicated," the lead researcher, Kathleen Donohue, MD stated.  Donohue is an associate professor of Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons as well as an investigator for the Center for Children's Environmental Health.

The study was comprised of 568 women from the Mothers & Newborns study of environment exposure. The research team monitored the amount of BPA exposure by taking the urine samples of pregnant women in the third trimester and from children ages three, five, and seven. The urine provided the researchers with the levels of BPA metabolite. The researchers found that when they took aside the smoking factor, since smoking is a contributor to asthma, children who were exposed to BPA after birth had an increased chance for wheeze and asthma. BPA exposure during the third trimester, however, did not contribute to higher risks for childhood asthma. Previous studies showed the BPA exposure during the second trimester of pregnancy could lead to higher risks for asthma.

The study did not find any biological mechanisms explaining why BPA might increase the risk for childhood asthma. Children can be exposed to the chemical and never develop asthma. However, the fact that BPA can influence children who may already have other risk factors for asthma is important to acknowledge. Therefore, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) recommends that people avoid plastic containers, more specifically those labeled three and seven, eat less canned goods, and use glass, porcelain, or stainless steel containers when dealing with hot foods and liquids. 

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