A new study that shows girls are reaching puberty earlier than ever — which puts them at greater risk for behavioral problems as adolescents and breast cancer as adults — is just the latest report to highlight the many alarming health challenges facing our children today. Autism spectrum disorders are on the rise and childhood obesity has become a national epidemic.
As a family physician, I, along with a growing number of researchers, am concerned about the role that hormone-disrupting chemicals play in the health of our most vulnerable citizens.
For decades, California has been a leader in protecting children from dangerous substances. Our groundbreaking policies have dramatically reduced children’s exposure to lead, tobacco smoke and many other harmful compounds that can cause learning, behavior and developmental problems.
These actions have directly and measurably improved children’s health here and in other places that have followed California’s lead. So why are we lagging behind the nationwide movement to protect kids from the dangerous toxic chemical bisphenol-A or BPA?
BPA is a synthetic chemical used to make hard plastics such as baby bottles and sippy cups, and epoxy resins for the linings of food and drink cans, including baby food and formula. It leaches out of containers and into food and drink consumed by infants and young children.
In the human body, BPA mimics the hormone estrogen and causes disruption of the endocrine system that controls growth and development, making fetuses, infants and young children especially vulnerable. Exposure to BPA when a baby’s developing body is extremely sensitive to chemical change has the potential of creating lifetime problems.