BPA and Your Baby: Protecting Your Family from the Chemical Bisphenol A
If you were born in the 1960s or later and spent any portion of your childhood feeding from a bottle, eating leftovers saved in plastic containers, or drinking from plastic water bottles, you have most likely been exposed to Bisphenol A, or BPA.
BPA is an industrial chemical present in a variety of polycarbonate plastics, such as plastic bottles and food storage items, and the most amount of exposure to the chemical comes from the use of these types of containers, as BPA can be leached into the food or drink. It is thought that the heat of the liquid or food is more a factor in determining how much chemical is leaked than is the age of the container.
Ron Vigdor, President and founder of BornFree™, which manufactures a variety of baby products free of BPA, says, “It’s really found all over the place – baby bottles, water jugs such as those in offices and homes, medical equipment, dental devices, CDs/DVDs.”
While tests show that low levels of exposure to BPA ‘might’ be okay, new results from studies done by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and the National Institutes of Health and FDA have shown that potential problems could arise with too much exposure, particularly as it concerns the behavior, brain, and prostate gland in infants and young children.
Fortunately for parents today, most major companies have stopped manufacturing baby bottles with BPA, and, says Paige Wolf, author of Spit That Out: The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt, most retailers like Babies R Us no longer stock them.
Still, a study conducted by the CDC found detectable levels of BPA in 93% of 2517 total urine samples given by children ages six and older. So what can a parent to do to limit the amount of exposure to BPA?
- Consider alternative methods for storage. Wolf says, “Get rid of as much plastic as possible from your kitchen. Glass containers like Pyrex make a great alternative.” They can be used over and over again, they won’t stain, and in most cases they can transfer from the oven to the tabletop to the refrigerator without dirtying additional dishes.
- Only purchase bottles that do not contain the chemical BPA. Most major bottle manufacturers are now eliminating BPA from their products. They might cost more, but, says Vigdor, “The truth is that our BPA-Free bottles are just more expensive to produce. We hope this always isn’t the case, but for now, like most new technology, it is.” Besides, the end result – less exposure to a potentially dangerous chemical – is worth the added cost.
- Wolf says to be equally conscientious with anything a baby puts into her mouth, such as teethers, sippy cups, and feeding utensils. “There are many companies dedicated to sustainability and making safe bottles and feeding materials, such as Born Free, Think Baby, and Green to Grow.” Check with these companies if you aren’t sure what you are using is BPA-free.
- Check those recycling numbers, Wolf adds. “Numbers 2, 4, and 5 are the least problematic,” says Paige. “Stay away from numbers 3, 6, and 7.” She continues with, “BPA is commonly found in clear, hard polycarbonate plastic marked #7.”