New recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urge parents to avoid excessively exposing young children to several types of chemicals including those in plastic food containers and in processed meats. The group, which represents 67,000 of the nation’s pediatricians, said increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods would help to reduce exposure to dangerous chemicals linked to metabolic and endocrine disorders.
AAP specifically pointed to nitrates and nitrites, commonly found in cured meat products, and phthalates, used in plastic packaging, as well as bisphenol-A and bisphenol-S, also found in plastic, can linings, and in some cash register receipt paper. The group also warned against exposure to perfluoroalkyl chemicals, or PFCs, found in some take-out food packaging such as pizza boxes.
A number of these chemicals have been linked to serious health conditions including rising rates of obesity and type-2 diabetes among the nation’s children. Some of the chemicals, such as nitrites and nitrates, have also been linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer.
“The good news is there are safe and simple steps people can take right now to limit exposures, and they don’t have to break the bank,” Dr. Leonardo Trasande, the lead author of the statement and chief of the division of environmental pediatrics at New York University’s School of Medicine, told the New York Times.
“Avoiding canned food is a great way to reduce your bisphenol exposure in general, and avoiding packaged and processed food is a good way to avoid phthalates exposures,” Dr. Trasande said.
The warning comes as researchers out of the University of California, San Francisco, and published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found a startling number of chemicals in the blood of pregnant women. The chemicals, called environmental organic acids (EOAs), have been linked to endocrine system damage in fetuses. The researchers noted they may put unborn children at a greater risk of genetic defects, fetal damage, and some forms of cancer.
The researchers also noted the presence of estrogenic compounds related to plastic exposure and one chemical banned from dietary supplements but still used in a number of applications including cosmetics, pesticides, and as a coloring agent, the Times noted.