When children ingest chemicals added to food and food packaging, their health may suffer, the American Academy of Pediatrics warns in a new policy statement, advising parents to be cautious about plastic containers, avoid processed meats and take other steps to limit kids’ exposure to food additives. The report represents the accumulation of two decades of scientific research documenting increasing evidence about the effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on children’s health.
The chemicals of concern:
The report focused on six additives and their potential health effects, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
• Bisphenols, like BPA: may change the timing of puberty, decrease fertility, increase body fat and affect the nervous and immune systems.
• Phthalates: may affect male genital development, increase childhood obesity and contribute to heart disease.
• Perfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFCs): may reduce immunity, birth weight and fertility.
• Perchlorate: can disrupt thyroid function, early life brain development and growth.
• Artificial food colors: may worsen attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms.
• Nitrates: can interfere with thyroid hormone production and the blood’s ability to deliver oxygen in the body.
There’s no way to completely avoid food additives, but there are ways to reduce kids’ exposure. Here are some tips from the AAP, which represents 67,000 pediatricians:
• Eat fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, and avoid processed meats. Avoid canned foods.
• Avoid plastics and microwaving food or beverages in plastic. Use glass or stainless steel containers when possible.