06/18/2013 01:25 pm ET Updated Aug 18, 2013

Endocrine Disruptors Heat Up the Hill

Endocrine disruptors -- basically, chemicals that change your hormones -- include BPA, found in hard plastics, food can linings and cash register receipts, and a class of chemicals used to soften plastics and stabilize synthetic perfumes called phthalates. Both substances have been linked to early puberty in animals.

Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, is so concerned about endocrine disruptors that she recently published an article on the subject, which drew criticism from members of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology for presenting "broad and general statements... that appear to represent both her viewpoint as well as that of HHS."

In 2010, Pediatrics published a study that found one in 10 girls have already begun developing breasts -- the first sign of puberty -- by the age of 8. This is not an innocuous finding. Early puberty means early breast development, which puts girls at a higher risk for breast and uterine cancer -- as well as eating disorders, depression and early sexual activity, among other challenges.

Experts aren't sure what's behind this trend, but endocrine disruptors keep popping up with probable cause. And if Dr. Birnbaum's worried about them, I am too.

Visit Mommy Greenest for steps you can take to reduce your family's exposure.