Common food additives harm children’s health, pediatricians warn
A pediatricians’ group representing 67,000 U.S. doctors published a statement and report Monday warning about the impact common chemicals in food and food packaging are having on children’s health.
The American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement expressed concern over a growing body of research linking chemicals commonly added to food as coloring or flavorings or used in food packaging with health risks like hormone disruption. The doctors further argued that U.S. food regulation policy does not do enough to protect against these chemicals.
“We’ve reached a moment wherein we recognize that the science is suggesting that we can’t assume that chemicals are innocent until proven guilty,” lead statement author Dr. Leonardo Trasande told media.
Chemicals highlighted by the statement include bisphenols, used in the lining of metal cans; phthalates, which are used to make plastic packaging; perfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFCs), which are used to make grease-resistant packaging; perchlorate, used in dry-goods packaging and to clean food-making equipment; and nitrates and nitrites, used as common preservatives, especially in meats.
Studies in recent years have linked these chemicals with hormone disruption, which is especially damaging for children since their organs are still developing and any disruption of the process can have lifetime impacts.
Perchlorate, for example, has been known to disrupt the thyroid hormone, and the doctors said it might be partly responsible for the rise in neonatal hypothyroidism in the U.S.
There is also an environmental justice aspect to exposure to these chemicals. The statement pointed out that evidence of exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) was higher among African American and low-income individuals. BPA has been linked to obesity, which is also higher among children of color and in low-income communities.