A recent study in the journal Pediatrics examined the harmful effects of ingesting the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) during pregnancy. The largest FDA study of BPA linked the chemical to heart disease, liver abnormalities, and diabetes in adults and to developmental problems in the brains and hormonal systems of children. For years parents have sought out BPA-free bottles for their infants because BPA is known to resemble the hormone estrogen, which plays a role in brain development, and can be harmful to health. But a new study shows that exposure to BPA even prenatally, not during childhood, is associated with anxiety and depression. It’s even associated with difficulty in controlling behavior in 3 year olds, especially in girls.
A team headed by epidemiologist Joe M. Braun of Harvard University studied 240 women in the Cincinnati area, sampling their urine for traces of BPA during pregnancy, at birth, and their children at ages 1, 2, and 3. They found 97 percent of the samples contained BPA. When parents were surveyed about their child’s behavior they discovered that the more BPA the child was exposed to in the womb the more likely they were to be anxious, hyperactive, depressed, and have poor self-control when it came to behaviors and emotions. Furthermore, this effect was more pronounced in females that males.
The chemical BPA is often used in plastics. This is the reason you’ve always been told not to microwave plastic containers “or you’ll get cancer.” BPA is also found in the lining of metal cans. Over time the BPA seeps into the food or beverage, so one could argue the older the can the more BPA the food inside could potentially contain. If you think about, our food really should be perishable.
Avoiding BPA can be tricky. The amount of BPA varies from packaged food to packaged food. For instance a 2007 study found that chicken soup, infant formula and ravioli had the highest concentrations of BPA, while condensed milk, soda and canned fruit contained much less of the chemical. Your best bet: avoid all canned foods. Fresh vegetables take only minutes to braise or steam, and if that’s not good enough you can always hit the frozen food aisle. Other things like beans mean you’ll have to plan ahead if you want to make them fresh (dry). I know I use canned peeled and diced tomato in just about everything I cook, but I know I just have to find the time to do it myself. In the end, we all want to eat fewer processed foods anyway, avoid heart disease and diabetes, eat more nutrients instead of fillers.
- Avoid canned foods.
- Choose glass, plastic, or cardboard over cans.
- Use a stainless steel water bottle.
- Do NOT microwave plastic containers.
- Use powdered infant formula instead of liquid.