Last week my husband came home exclaiming that we needed to rid the house of all BPA. Apparently, he had read a study indicating exposure in utero negatively impacts girls' behavior and mood. Bisphenol A or BPA is an estrogen-mimicking, hormone disruptor. The study showed that higher BPA urine levels in pregnant women, the more pronounced the effect on behavior in girls. They linked it to anxiety, depression and hyperactivity. The study is summarized here in this Huffington Post article Huffington Post/ BPA and Pregnancy.
BPA is found in some bottles (including baby bottles) and plastic containers, specifically those labeled with a #7 on the bottom. This is very commonly seen in colored plastic. #1, #4 and #5 plastics do not contain BPA. Other products that contain BPA are canned foods and beverages - the lining used often contains BPA. It's also found some plastic storage bags and in thermally-printed receipts (although this one seems less concerning unless you decide to ingest your receipts). Here are some tips to avoiding BPA-containing products.
Seeing that we recently found out I'm pregnant with a girl, this was cause for concern. Mind you, we have already removed all of the plastic culprits from the home. I was comfortable knowing that we had at least reduced our exposure. However, one of my staple prego lunches is lentil vegetable soup which is of course in a can... a can lined with BPA-containing material most likely. Needless to say, I've stopped eating this and was happy to find a suitable alternative in a carton container. I haven't looked extensively into the materials used in these cartons but for now, they generally seem like a safer alternative. There are two soup carton brands that I found claiming to use no BPA in their packaging and those are Dr. McDougall's and Pacific Foods. You can find these at Whole Foods and Wegman's and possibly in the natural food section at other stores.
Coincidentally, I also received some information in the mail this week from MASSPIRG indicating that there is a bill in the works to ban BPA from products for children under 3. The bill is called 'An Act to Protect Children from Bisphenol-A' and is sponsored by Sen. Karen Spilka from Framingham. To find out more about this campaign and what you can do to help MASSPIRG - Issues.
Here's some more food for thought on this topic. I was giving a training to teachers from several local elementary and middle school enrichment programs today and we got talking about this recent study. One teacher shared that it's almost impossible not to serve items that are pre-packaged (in plastic and cans) due to health department regulations. These foods are apparently "safer". They also cheaper so even in a facility that has a fully regulated kitchen, you will likely find shelves lined with canned and plastic-wrapped foods. We need to think about how to provide healthier alternatives for children in our schools. At the very least, the research on BPA will likely impact consumer trends and possibly lead companies to finding safer packaging alternatives for food. In the meantime, try to minimize processed food and check out the materials included in the packaging of foods you commonly eat.
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