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The Doctors are joined by Dr. Katherine Williamson the VP of the American Academy of Pediatrics OC chapter to discuss the AAP’s call for urgent reform from the FDA. The AAP is also now warning parents that food additives may harm their children.
Dr. Williamson says there is growing evidence which claims there are chemicals in food being directly added through additives, preservatives and/or leaking through packaging. She says there are 10,000 chemicals that are in these food additives that could be potentially harmful. Dr. Williamson shares that a recent study looked at half of these chemicals and the majority of them never had any research done to see if they are safe for human consumption. She adds that children are at a much more vulnerable state because pound for pound they ingest more chemicals and are also still developing.
ER physician Dr. Travis Stork questions why it’s taken so long for physician groups to raise the red flag? Dr. Williamson explains that pediatricians have been saying for a long time to be mindful of these chemicals, but there hasn't been the data to support that it’s harmful. Regulations as far back as the 1950s don't allow certain chemicals to be tested so the data and research has been limited. But now that there is some new data action can be taken.
Dr. Williamson lists 3 hormone-disruptor chemicals to look out for:
- Nitrates – used as a preservative in processed meats and other foods. They can be harmful to the endocrine system, carcinogenic, and can increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and reproductive functions.
- Phthalates – found in plastic packaging. Can cause endocrine problems and can also be carcinogenic.
- PFCs – used in packaging like plastics and aluminum cans. Can decrease the strength of the immune system.
Dr. Travis points out that we don’t need to worry about one-time use but it’s building up over time, and using it every day, that is a concern. Dr. Williamson also notes that you don’t need to avoid plastic altogether. For example, plastic sippy cups and baby bottles are closely regulated so at this time those are not a concern. But do avoid heating them up by putting them in the microwave.
What can parents do to protect their children?
- Avoid plastic containers that are labeled 3, 6, or 7 on the bottom.
- Avoid food dyes. Look for ingredients that list the color like “red 40, yellow 5, blue 1” and stay away.
- Eat real foods like fruits and veggies. Fresh and frozen is best. Try to avoid canned when you can.