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Plastic chemical triggers allergic asthma

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A plastic chemical commonly used in baby bottles and the lining of food and beverage cans may at least partially responsible for allergic asthma, a new study suggests.

The animal model study presented Sunday in New Orleans at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology annual meeting  showed the mice born to the mothers who were exposed to bisphenol A or BPA suffered allergic asthma.

BPA has been known to cause a myriad health problems.  Even Food and Drug Administration, which initially rejected the link between BPA exposure and health conditions, has recently admitted that BPA can potentially be harmful.

Dr. Erick Forno of pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and colleagues early have found that baby mice born to mothers who had been exposed to BPA were at higher risk of allergic asthma.

In the current study, Dr. Forno and colleagues intended to decide what levels of exposure would affect the animals.

What the researchers did is prepare drinking water with 0.1 1 or 10 micrograms per ML of BPA and give it female mice before, during and after pregnancy.  Baby mice were given ovalbumin immediately after birth to induce asthma.

They found mice born to mothers exposed to 10 micrograms of BPA developed airway problems while mice  born to mothers exposed to low or no BPA did not develop the problem.

Allergic asthma is the most common type of asthma that affects some 90 percent of children with asthma and 50 percent of adults with asthma.

Individuals with allergic asthma have their airways hypersensitive to the allergens and when they are exposed to allergens, they may suffer coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, rapid breathing and tightening of the chest, symptoms that are commonly experienced by patients with non-allergic or allergic asthma.

The allergens of concern include  pollen from tress, grasses and weeds, mold spores, animal dander and saliva, dust mite feces and cockroach feces among others.

Studies by The Environmental Working Group suggested that BPA contamination in canned food are likely to put consumers at risk of ingesting doses of the chemical that are very close to levels now known to harm laboratory animals.

EWG scientist Sonya Lunder said parents should choose BPA-free types of baby bottles or water bottles and formulas with a label claiming BPA-free to avoid BPA exposure. Babies are more sensitive than adults to the harm from the chemical and they also ingest more than adults.   

Lunder also suggested pregnant women should minimize exposure to canned foods and polycarbonate food containers, and BPA-containing medical devices.

Early studies have found associations between BPA and high risk of abnormal behavior, male reproductive system, heart disease immune system, the brain, breast cancer, metabolic syndrome, heart attack and diabetes among other diseases.

By David Liu

Photo courtesy: wikipedia

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