Like many moms, Laura Lieb worries about how chemicals in cans and plastics could affect her 3-year-old son, Gavin. She takes steps to avoid one in particular, bisphenol A, also known as BPA.
"We've tried to make sure that the container this is in is BPA free," she said.
Though banned from baby bottles and sippy cups, BPA is found in some plastic food containers and in the lining of many canned foods. The chemical can seep into food and has been linked to cardiovascular problems, diabetes and obesity. Now, researchers at Columbia University's Center for Children's Environmental Health say exposure to BPA may also increase a child's risk of asthma.
"Exposure to BPA in early childhood in ages 3, 5, and 7 were associated with increased odds of wheeze and asthma at school age between 5 and 12," said Dr. Kathleen Donohue of Columbia University's Center for Children's Environmental Health.
Researchers measured the BPA levels of more than 500 pregnant women and then followed their kids. By age 12, one-third had asthma.
There are ways to reduce exposure to BPA. Experts say choose fresh vegetables and fruits when possible and use glass containers, especially in the microwave.
Donohue also says to avoid plastic containers with the recycling numbers 3 or 7.
"It's not a guarantee, but it may have BPA," she said.
Lieb says she tries her best to avoid plastics.
"I switched from using a water bottle that was disposable to one that was BPA-free or one made of stainless steel," she said.
She also tries to buy fresh and cook from scratch whenever she can.
More than 90 percent of kids in this study had detectable levels of BPA in their bodies, which is in line with previous studies.
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