Trasande 2018: Food additives and child health

Trasande, Shaffer, Sathyanarayana. Pediatrics. 142(2)

The purpose of this paper is to review “emerging child health concerns related to the use of colorings, flavorings, and chemicals deliberately added to food during processing … as well as substances in food contact materials, including adhesives, dyes, coatings, paper, paperboard, plastic, and other polymers ..”

Chemicals of concern because they may cause endocrine disruption are:

  • Bisphenols used in the lining of metal cans
  • Phthalates, used in adhesives and plasticizers during manufacturing
  • Pesticides
  • Perfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFC/s) used in grease-proof paper
  • Perchlorate used in plastic packaging for dry foods

Additional compounds  of concern include artificial food colors, nitrates, and nitrites.

NOTE:  Is it possible that the recent gender-related problems of our young generation may actually be related to chemicals they were exposed to before birth and during childhood?


  • “Artificial food colors may be associated with exacerbation of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms.”
  • “Nitrates and nitrites can interfere with thyroid hormone production”
  • “Nitrates and nitrites … may result in the increased production of carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds.”

The authors point out that low income families are more exposed to obesogenic chemicals (those that make you fat) such as BPA which may partially explain health differences related to income.

The authors complain the FDA’s toxicological testing has not been updated, and doesn’t take behavioral or other end points related to early life exposure into account.  They suggest that the FDA “should consider cumulative and mixture effects … including other additives and contaminants that interact with relevant biological pathways.”

MedLine || Full Text

NOTE:  In 2011, Trasande & Liu published a paper complaining that although the costs of environmental disease in children was documented at $54.9 Billion in 2002, and 76.6 Billion in 2008, few important changes in federal policy have been implemented to prevent exposure to toxic chemicals. 


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