Food packaging phthalates threaten children - study

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Blood pressure, Hypertension

Scientists have connected the phthalate DEHP to hypertension in children
Scientists have connected the phthalate DEHP to hypertension in children
Chemicals leaching from food packaging may drive up high blood pressure in children, according to a US study.

Drawing on data from a nationally representative survey of more than 3,000 children and teenagers, scientists have connected consumption of di-2-ethylhexylphthalate (DEHP), a phthalate used in food packaging, with elevated blood pressure.

Researchers at New York University (NYU) Langone Medical Centre, the University of Washington, the University of Cincinnati and Penn State University School of Medicine collaborated on the project.

The findings, which link DEHP to raised systolic blood pressure, a measure of pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts, have been published in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Could pose a risk to health

Phthalates are added to a range of plastic products to increase their flexibility and have come under increasing international scrutiny as food contact materials that could pose a risk to health.

The study examines six years of data from a nationally representative survey of the US population, administered by the National Centres for Health Statistics of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Measuring phthalates in urine samples, the researchers found that every three-fold increase in DEHP component levels correlated with a roughly one millimetre mercury increase in a child’s blood pressure.

'Shifts in blood pressure'

“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,”​ said Dr Leonardo Trasande, lead author of the paper and associate professor of paediatrics environmental medicine and population health at NYU Langone Medical Centre.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is clinically defined as a systolic blood-pressure reading above 140mm Hg. It is most common in people over the age of 50, but is becoming more prevalent among children as a result of the rising tide of obese kids.

  • A study just published​ in the journal Science of The Total Environment examines the potential for phthalates present in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) mineral water bottles to contaminate the water. Three mineral water brands were tested. Levels of the four phthalates tested for depended on the type of PET, the pH, packaging volume and temperature, but none was considered high enough to pose a threat to human health.
  • Source: ‘Study on the leaching of phthalates from polyethylene terephthalate bottles into mineral water’​; Science of The Total Environment​, doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.04.056​; Volumes 458-460, August 1, 2013, pp451-458; Authors: Szilvia Keresztes; Eniko Tatar; Zsuzsanna Czegeny; Gyula Zaray; Victor Mihucz

Related topics: Food safety, R&D

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