Food Additives and Chemicals are Harmful to Children
Whether you are feeding your children or letting them play with pool toys you need to consider what these items are made with. Food additives, canned food containers, plastic bottles and containers, and inflatable pool toys. They all contain some sort of chemical or additive that can be harmful to you and your children. Children are more susceptible because their bodies are still growing. Children have more of chance of getting these chemicals into their bodies because they have a tendency to put their hands in their mouths, eat more than adults, and have more time for these chemicals to do more damage.
Since we started putting food into containers, making plastic wrap to keep food fresh, or putting chemicals into makeup to make these items either look good, feel good, or stay fresh for a long period of time we have been putting chemicals into our bodies. Food additives being the most dangerous culprit, as we actually directly consume the various food additives and chemicals. This has been going on for decades and used by all sorts of companies. At the time we started using these items it was a good idea but now that we know a little bit more about their chemical reactions to our bodies we have learned that they are not good for us.
It is often the additives that are used to give a food a marketable quality, such as color and flavor, that most commonly cause allergic reactions. Some of these hypersensitive reactions include:
- Digestive disorders – diarrhoea and colicky pains
- Nervous disorders – hyperactivity, insomnia and irritability
- Respiratory problems – asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis
- Skin problems – hives, itching, rashes and swelling.
In a policy statement titled Food Additives and Child Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers warnings about health risks of a variety of food additives — and points out that they often are worse for children. Children are smaller, so their “dose” of any given chemical ends up being higher. Their bodies are still developing, so they can be more at risk of harm — and they are young, so the chemicals have more time to do more damage.
In particular, the policy statement warns about:
- Bisphenols, such as BPA. They can act like the hormone estrogen and interfere with puberty and fertility. Bisphenols can also increase body fat, and cause problems with the immune system and nervous system. They are found in the lining of food and soda cans, plastics with the number 3 or 7, and cash register receipts, among other places. They used to be found in plastic baby bottles and sippy cups; while this has been banned, older bottles and cups may still contain them.
- Phthalates. These can also act like hormones, interfering with male genital development, and can increase the risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease. They are ubiquitous, found not just in plastic packaging, garden hoses, and inflatable toys, but also in things like nail polish, hairsprays, lotions, and fragrances.
- Perfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFCs). They can lead to low-birthweight babies, as well as problems with the immune system, the thyroid, and fertility. They are commonly found in grease-proof paper, cardboard packaging, and commercial household products such as water-repellent fabric and nonstick pans, among other places.
- Perchlorate. This chemical also interferes with thyroid function, and can disrupt early brain development. It’s found in some dry food packaging — it’s used to decrease static electricity — and sometimes in drinking water.
- Artificial food colors. These have been found to increase symptoms in children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. They are found in all sorts of food products, but especially those marketed for children.
- Nitrates and nitrites. These can interfere with the thyroid, as well as with the blood’s ability to deliver oxygen to the body. They can also increase the risk of certain cancers. They are used to preserve food and enhance its color. They are commonly found in processed foods, especially meats.
Although there are ways to limit the amount of potentially harmful food additives in your family’s diet, stronger federal food safety requirements will help keep all children healthy.
If you’re concerned about food additives, talk with your pediatrician.