A new study has found that exposure to a certain component of plastic may be linked to high blood pressure in kids.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at New York University's Langone Medical Center, University of Washington and Penn State University School of Medicine, looked at a certain class of phthalates — those commonly used in food packaging — and found that exposure to them could cause significant metabolic and hormonal abnormalities, especially in kids whose young bodies are still developing.

For the study, researchers evaluated 3,000 kids and found that exposure to DEHP (di-2-ethyhexylphthalate), which is often used in food packaging as well as in plastic cups, beach balls, shoe soles, shower curtains, garden hoses, and other common household items, is responsible for elevated systolic blood pressure, a measure of pressure in the arteries when the heart beats.

Dr. Leonardo Trasande, associate professor of pediatrics, environmental medicine and population health at NYU Langone Medical Centre, said: "Phthalates can inhibit the function of cardiac cells and cause oxidative stress that compromises the health of arteries but no one has explored the relationship between phthalate exposure and heart health in children. We wanted to examine the link between phthalates and childhood blood pressure, in particular given the increase in elevated blood pressure in children and the increasing evidence implicating exposure to environmental chemicals in early development of disease."

The report is published in this month's issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.

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