BPA Plastic Exposure Linked to Childhood Asthma Risk

Children who are exposed to the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, are at an increased risk for asthma, according to a new study published in Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

A group of researchers at the Columbia Center for Children's Environment Health at the Mailman School of Public Health are the first to document a clear link between exposure as a child to BPA and a raised risk for asthma during childhood.

Lead author Kathleen Donohue, MD, said “asthma prevalence has increased dramatically over the past 30 years, which suggests that some as-yet-undiscovered environmental exposures may be implicated. Our study indicates that one such exposure may be BPA.”

BPA has become extremely commonplace – it is used to line food cans, plastic water bottles and take away containers and is found in many cash-register receipts.

More than 90 per cent of the children in the study had at least some detectable levels of a BPA metabolite (a breakdown product of the chemical) in their urine.

The higher the level, the greater the risk of lung issues.

Medical experts for decades have been trying to figure out what has caused asthma rates to skyrocket in children throughout much of the world, beginning in the 1980s.

Many suspect that it might have something to do with early-life exposures and changes in immune systems causing inflammation.

In order to reduce childhood exposure, the US Food and Drug Administration and The European Union, have banned BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups. In 2010 Canada became the first country to declare BPA a toxic substance. 

Unfortunately BPA still a common ingredient in Australian made plastic products, including baby bottles. 

One out of every 10 Australian children has been diagnosed with asthma, according to the National Asthma Council of Australia.


BPA Linked to Asthma, Obesity and More

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a compound used in plastics. First used in 1891, the chemical is now a key building block of plastics – from polycarbonate to polyester, it is estimated every Australian home has at least one source of BPA.

Since at least 1936, BPA has been known to mimic oestrogens, binding to the same receptors throughout the human body as natural female hormones.

Seventy-something years on after the discovery that BPA is disruptive to our bodies, and it's more readily used than ever before.

BPA exposure is also associated with other health problems such as:

  • Impaired Glucose Tolerance
  • Increased Breast Cancer Risk
  • Disrupts thyroid function
  • Decrease Sperm Count 
  • Heart Disease
  • Behavioural Issues
  • Obesity

Test findings and further research have raised questions about the potential health risks of BPA, especially in the wake of studies showing that it leaches from plastics and resins when exposed to hard use or high temperatures (think microwave, dishwashers, leaving your bottle in the car, or chinese take-away!).


Ways to Reduce Your BPA Exposure:

  • Avoid canned food 
  • Choose glass or stainless steel containers especially for hot foods and liquids
  • Throw away your plastic drink bottles. Invest in a Cheeki BPA free Stainless Steel water bottle.  
  • Avoiding plastic containers numbers 3 and 7 (see table below)
  • For babies, avoid plastic or resin baby bottles at all costs. There are a large range of glass bottles that will do the job just fine, without the risk of dangerous chemicals leaching into the milk.
  • Read “How to Reduce Your Toxic Burden” for ways to reduce your chemical body burden.



    Final Word

    Because it’s the first study of its kind, it’s too early to blame BPA for causing asthma in children. But the chemical is increasingly linked to more and more children’s health problems so it is best to be avoided in general. 

    Expectant mothers and women planning to conceive should be diligent in avoidance of bisphenol-A contaminated products – it is imperative for the well being of themselves and their infants.


    Further Reading: