Widely used chemical linked to childhood asthma

The chemical BPA has been linked to an increase in the chances of childhood asthma

(CBS News) Bisphenol A (BPA) is often used to line food and beverage cans as well as to keep plastics flexible, but a new study suggests the compound can leach into the foods we eat.

BPA has been linked to behavior problems, obesity, hormone abnormalities and even kidney and heart problems. Now, new research from scientists at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health has found a link between the compound and an increased risk for asthma.

"Our study found that routine low doses of exposure were associated with increased odds in wheezing," said lead author Dr. Kathleen Donohue, an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and an investigator at the center.

Donohue and her colleagues followed 568 women participating in a study on environmental exposures to mothers and newborns. They measured the BPA levels in the women's urine during their third trimester of pregnancy and also tested their kids' urine for BPA when they were aged 3, 5 and 7. At ages 5 and 12, based on their symptoms, tests and medical history, their physicians diagnosed the children who met the criteria for asthma with the respiratory disorder.

Donohue and her team found that BPA might be one of the environmental exposures that may have contributed to the increase in asthma over the years. She also said that pregnant women pass the chemical to their fetuses through their blood stream or placenta.

Watch: BPA: Risking our kids health?

However, there are things that consumers can do to help prevent ingesting BPA. Donohue recommends that people "use less canned foods, use less stainless steel." She also suggests that before purchasing plastic products to check the number in the small triangle on the bottom of the merchandise. It is better to avoid anything plastic with a 3 or a 7.

For Dr. Kathleen Donohue's full interview, watch the video in the player above.