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Disrupted Development

I am 36 years old, relatively healthy and don’t live near a polluting facility.

I’m not who you’d picture when you think of someone particularly susceptible to chemical exposures.

But, at five months pregnant, I’m providing my baby with the first environment he or she will inhabit.

My body is the conduit through which my baby will receive all things- good and bad.  Like any expecting parent, I am doing my best to ensure I only expose myself to things that will promote a healthy pregnancy and life for my child. But my best will never be enough.

I co-authored a report for my organization, the Breast Cancer Fund, called Disrupted Development: The Dangers of Prenatal BPA Exposure. This report compiled scientific evidence on fetal exposure to the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) and the health effects associated with these exposures. And the science is devastating.

Not only are fetuses exposed to BPA from their mother, the younger they are, the less able they are to eliminate it rapidly. In other words, the time period when the most rapid development is occurring is also the time when the most exposure is likely happening.

This is a huge problem because exposure to BPA during this critical window of development has been shown in lab studies to increase risk for breast cancer, prostate cancer, obesity, early puberty and neurological problems.

The largest source of BPA exposure is from canned food. I am trying to avoid canned food but I’m lucky—I live in an area where fresh vegetables and fruit are available year round and I’m lucky enough to have a job that gives me time to cook my own meals. But I can’t help but think about the women out there who don’t have these advantages—those whose only source of vegetables in the winter are in a can or who rely on canned soups for lunches or dinners for their families.

And what about the women who don’t find out they are pregnant until well into their first trimester?

No matter how careful a woman is, there is no way to avoid all BPA exposure.

And you know what? It shouldn’t be our job! No one, especially a pregnant woman, should have to be a toxicologist to go to the grocery store.

BPA is toxic and has no place in our food. The science has been mounting on this chemical for years, but because of our broken chemical laws in this country, BPA remains in products and our environment. Consumer pressure has made a difference and it has led to smaller brands abandoning BPA. Even some of the larger manufacturers are transitioning away from BPA. But it isn’t happening fast enough.

Tell the canned food industry to hurry up and get rid of BPA. And tell your Senators and Representatives to support real chemical policy reform so chemicals like BPA don’t end up on the market ever again.

Let’s hope that our efforts today will ensure a healthy future for the next generation.