May 22, 2013
Common Chemical In Plastics Linked To Elevated Bloor Pressure In Kids
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
From BPA in plastic water bottles to mercury in fish, dangerous chemicals seem to be lurking in every corner these days. According to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and NYU Langone Medical Center, there´s another highly prevalent and potentially dangerous group of chemical to add to that list — phthalates.
Pronounced ℠THAL-ates,´ the chemical additive can be found in everything from plastic cups to intravenous tubing. Once thought to be harmless, phthalates are coming under increasing scrutiny as study after study has revealed their negative impact on the human body.
The new CDC-NYU study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that the chemical can affect the heart health of children and teens.
"Phthalates can inhibit the function of cardiac cells and cause oxidative stress that compromises the health of arteries. But no one has explored the relationship between phthalate exposure and heart health in children," said lead author Dr. Leonardo Trasande, associate professor of pediatrics, environmental medicine and population health at NYU´s Langone Medical Center.
"We wanted to examine the link between phthalates and childhood blood pressure in particular given the increase in elevated blood pressure in children and the increasing evidence implicating exposure to environmental exposures in early development of disease,” explained Trasande.
In the study, researchers culled six years of data on over 3,000 children and teens from a national health survey administered by the CDC´s National Centers for Health Statistics. They were able to detect a common phthalate called DEHP in the study participants using standard urinalysis techniques. After controlling for race, socioeconomic status, body mass index, diet and activity levels, the research team found that every three-fold increase in the level of metabolized DEHP products correlated with a roughly one-point increase in a child or teen's blood pressure.
While hypertension — blood pressure above 140/90 mm Hg — is becoming increasingly common among children thanks in part to the global obesity epidemic, the study researchers attributed their findings solely to the levels of phthalates found in their samples.
"Obesity is driving the trend but our findings suggest that environmental factors may also be a part of the problem," Trasande said. "This is important because phthalate exposure can be controlled through regulatory and behavioral interventions."
"That increment may seem very modest at an individual level, but on a population level such shifts in blood pressure can increase the number of children with elevated blood pressure substantially," Trasande added. "Our study underscores the need for policy initiatives that limit exposure to disruptive environmental chemicals, in combination with dietary and behavioral interventions geared toward protecting cardiovascular health."
Phthalates“¯are typically added to plastics to increase their flexibility, durability, transparency and longevity. They are easily released into the surrounding environment and this release accelerates as the plastics age and breakdown.
In 1999 the European Union restricted the use of phthalates in some children's toys, and in August 2008, the US Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act that banned children's toys or child care products with concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of certain types of phthalates.