How Plastic Makes Your Brain Sick


A chemical in plastic has been linked to an increased risk for developing mental illness, when children are exposed early in life.

by Neda Smith and Dr. Patrick Lovegrove

If you are like many Americans who have had or plan to have children, you know the amount of care that goes into improving our health during pregnancy and pre-pregnancy has intensified. May is recognized as Mental Health Month. Now more than ever it’s important to understand how certain contaminants have a lifelong impact on our bodies as well as our children and the link to our mental health.

According to some estimates, twenty-two percent of Americans ages 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. Mental disorders also affect children. In fact, according to the National Mental Health Association, mental health problems affect one in five young people, the same alarming rate as adults.

If you ever have held a newborn in your hands the feeling of purity and perfection in unmistakable. One never would think of exposing this treasure to cigarette smoke or other harmful chemicals but, unknowingly, most parents are doing just that. Bisphenol A (BPA), which is now more prevalent than ever in our homes, has been linked to an increased risk for developing several types of behavioral problems–especially when children are exposed early in life.

BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical. It is found in our everyday products such as baby bottles, children’s toys, canned food containers, lids and plastic food containers.

Early exposure to BPA has been linked to anxiety and depression in young boys, conduct problems in girls and inattention and hyperactivity in both sexes. Many have stated this chemical is one of the main causes of the increased cases of Alzheimer’s and dementia in adults.

All this exposure, especially at such an early age, can lead to lifelong toxicity issues for our children. We often can’t control air and environmental toxins, but exposure to toxic chemicals such as BPA can be reduced.

Some suggestions are:

  1. Drinking liquids from either glass containers protected by plastic on the outside, to prevent breaking, or simply by using stainless steel containers not lined with plastic.
  2. Storing food in glass Tupperware or Corningware dishes.
  3. Eating fresh foods not stored in plastic containers or metal cans.
  4. Not putting plastic in the microwave, always using glass containers.
  5. Swapping out your coffeemaker with plastic containers and tubing for a traditional coffee machine or French press.
  6. Eating meals on traditional glass, ceramic or stainless steel and eliminating the sippy cups and the “cute” plastic cartoon character dishes.
  7. Having your child play with BPA-free toys.

Testing is available for these type of toxins to evaluate a patient’s health, especially when planning parenthood. Due to the mother’s exposure to chemicals during her lifetime, unborn babies are not as protected by the placenta barrier as once thought. They is potential  in-utero exposure to more than 200 chemicals. To get information regarding this exposure, one blood and urine test panel called “CORE” is available from Genova Diagnostics Laboratories. Testing can provide data on these hidden chemicals. Then we can start treatment and, thus, reduce the percentage of mental disorders in ourselves and our loved ones.


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