Thursday, January 7, 2010

Plastics? To use or not to use.

Today as I was following my home ec background, yes my COLLEGE degree was in Home Economics, and recommending cooking double batches of food and freezing in plastic containers, I was challenged about the safety of plastics. So here goes:

1. Look at the bottom of the container it will have a number, the "good" numbers are#1 -PET or PETE and #2 (HDPE). These are the types that are used for some soft drink (okay the soft drinks are not "good"), peanut butter, salad dressing, ketchup, milk bottles, yogurt/margarine tubs, cereal box liners and water bottles. These are not known to leach out any nasty chemicals.

Those with #4 (LDPE) and #5 (PP) are not known to leach out chemicals but they do contain some nasty chemicals and are not widely recycled so skip those. These are used in bread and frozen food bags, some ketchup bottles and yogurt/margarine tubs.

Avoid those with #3 (PVC), #6 (PS) and #7 ("other" usually polycarbonate). Polycarbonates, often found in microwave ovenware, disposable utensils and baby bottles contain biphenyl A which is the chemical thought to interfere with our hormones. #6 contains benzene and used in some hard cups and #3 is the cling wrap around meats and cheeses from your deli.

2. If you use plastic, best to use #1 or #2. Best NOT to use any plastic with heat as that can raise the risk of chemical leakage (note above "known" is in italics because we often don't "know" everything). Avoid cling wraps if possible, especially in the microwave. Use "safe" plastic containers or wax paper bags for lunches (hard to find, locally in Los Angeles, Gelson's carries wax paper sandwich bags.)

Avoid plastic bottled water if possible, toss any scratched or damaged plastic containers and don't wash plastic with harsh chemicals.

3. Don't just think about your food containers but also think about toys your child may chew on and those really cute plates you bought at the 99 cent store or Toys R Us. Be an informed parent and read those little numbers on the back of the product. If there is no number, don't buy.

4. If you want to be 100% safe, save or buy glass containers and use those to store, freeze and microwave.

AND always recycle your plastic.

More info?

PS and yes it is a good idea to double your recipes and you can freeze in #1 or #2 plastic, just don't heat it up in plastic.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Consensus report on Autism and Diet

A new report was published today on Autism and Diet. The lead author is Timothy Buie, MD a pediatric gastroenterologist at Harvard Medical school who runs a clinic at Massachusetts General for kids on the autism spectrum. The report, published in the January issue of Pediatrics includes the views of more than 25 experts who met in Boston in 2008 to write the consensus report after reviewing medical research. The Autism Society and other autism groups funded the report but did not contribute to the discussion.

The panel concluded that there is no rigorous evidence that digestive problems are more common in children on the autism spectrum compared to other children, or that special diets are successful. They do conclude though that digestive problems can trigger problem behavior in children with autism and these digestive problems should be treated medically.

Another point that Dr. Buie makes is that kids on the spectrum often do not get the "right" kind of attention when visiting the doctor's office as the office may not be friendly enough for the child to feel comfortable or equipped to make adjustments to provide care. In addition, he points out that many doctors are also uncomfortable addressing GI issues and autism due to many of the theories that have been discredited with newer researcher.

So what does this mean! While the panel does not support global dietary recommendations, it does support further research and addressing each child's needs. If your child is doing well on the diet they are following, keep it up. If your child does not appear to have benefited from restrictive diets, give it up. Each child is unique and the approach should be tailored to your child's individual picture.
Dr. Buie does recommend seeing a dietitian if your child has a limited diet to help expand the diet and look for any deficiencies.
To view the article, look for the January issue of Pediatrics.