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Chemicals exposure found in plastics may cause arterial hypertension in teens

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Chemicals exposure found in plastics may cause arterial hypertension in teens

A new study reveals that phthalates, some chemicals found in some plastics and processed foods, are associated with high blood pressure in children and adolescents. These chemicals are found almost everywhere today: in plastic cups, intravenous tubes, beach balloons, and other plastic products. Lately there have been many studies which suggested  that dietary exposure to phthalates (that can contaminate food from plastic packaging) can cause metabolic and hormonal changes, especially in children.

Now, according to an article published in the Journal of Pediatrics, another negative effect of phthalates may be the cardiovascular risk that it poses. To verify this hypothesis, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Washington and Penn State University School of Medicine, conducted a study involving approximately 3,000 children and adolescents. They wanted to see for the first time whether a class quite commonly of phthalates used in food production industries (DEHP di-2-ethyhexylphthalate) is associated with increased systolic blood pressure.

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Lead author Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, associate professor of Pediatrics, Environmental Medicine and Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center, said that phthalates can inhibit oxidative function of cardiac cells and cause oxidative stress which may affect the functioning of the arteries, But no one so far has revealed a link between exposure to phthalates and heart health in adolescents. He added that their aim was to highlight the connection between phthalates and high blood pressure that occurs in children.

Hypertension is one of the most common disorders that occur with age and is defined as an increase in arterial pressure over 140mmHg/90mmHg. Although it is considered a specific medical condition in elderly, hypertension has become increasingly common among young people due to the global obesity epidemic. According to a nationwide survey, 14% of American teens already have hypertension or pre-hypertension. One of the factors contributing to the increasing incidence of obesity among young people is obesity but it seems that environmental factors play an important role also, which is important because exposure to phthalates can be controlled.

Researchers measured the concentration of phthalates in urine samples and found that every three-fold increase of degradation products of DEHP in urine resulted in one-millimeter mercury increase in the child’s blood pressure. Dr. Trasande said that although this increase may seem modest at the individual level, however at a population level these shifts  in blood pressure can significantly increase the number of children with hypertension.