Plastic additives known as phthalates — found in everything from processed foods to cups and containers — have been shown to raise blood pressure in teens and children, raising new concerns about the chemicals.
New research, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, suggests certain types of phthalates may raise heart disease risks — a possibility that deserves wider scrutiny, according to scientists with New York University who conducted the study.
The findings, based on an analysis of surveys involving 3,000 children and teens, indicate for the first time that dietary exposure to DEHP (di-2-ethyhexylphthalate) — a common class of phthalate used in industrial food production — can raise systolic blood pressure, a measure of pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts.
"Phthalates can inhibit the function of cardiac cells and cause oxidative stress that compromises the health of arteries. But no one has explored the relationship between phthalate exposure and heart health in children," said lead researcher Leonardo Trasande, M.D., an associate professor of pediatrics, environmental medicine, and health at NYU Langone Medical Center.
"We wanted to examine the link between phthalates and childhood blood pressure in particular given the increase in elevated blood pressure in children and the increasing evidence implicating exposure to environmental exposures in early development of disease."
Phthalates are odorless and colorless, and are used in flooring, plastic cups, beach balls, plastic wrap, tubing, and many other consumer products. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The additives are present in the bodies of most Americans.
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