SPECIAL OFFER: - Limited Time Only!
(The ad below will not display on your printed page)

Say YES to your FREE SUBSCRIPTION today! Simply fill in the form below and click "Subscribe". You'll receive American Baby® magazine ABSOLUTELY FREE! (U.S. requests only)

Email:

First Name:

Last Name:

Address:

City:

State:

Zip:

Mother's Birth State: 
Is this your first child?
Yes
No
Due date or child's birthdate:
Your first FREE issue of American Baby® Magazine packed with great tips and expert advice will arrive within 4 to 6 weeks. In the meantime, your e-mail address is required to access your account and member benefits online, but rest assured that we will not share your e-mail address with anyone. Free subscription is subject to publisher's qualifications. Publisher bases number of issues served on birth and due dates provided. Click here to view our privacy policy.

Health Update: Baby Bottle Buzz -- Toxic or Not?

Your baby's bottles may not be as safe as they seem. According to a new report from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, certain types of plastic bottles contain a potentially dangerous chemical called bisphenol A (BPA), which has been linked to a number of health conditions in animals, including early onset of puberty, increased diabetes risk, hyperactivity, and certain cancers. Because of these findings, the Canadian government has banned all baby bottles made with BPA. Freaked out a little? So were we. Because it can be downright scary and confusing to digest these health risks (especially amid conflicting statements from the plastics industry), we tapped expert researchers to understand the real deal. Here, answers to your major concerns:

A. Here's what we know for sure: BPA is a hormone-disrupting chemical found in hard, clear plastic baby bottles; over time, it can seep into the containers and into your baby's milk. Here's what we don't know: "We haven't yet found definitive long-term health consequences in people," says Rebecca Roberts, PhD, an associate professor of biology at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, who studies BPA. Yet there are enough tangible risks -- especially for young babies and children, because they're still developing -- to be concerned. "I'm a mom too, and I believe it's important to balance your lifestyle with what the science says," Roberts says. "I can't say that my kid lives a completely BPA-free life, but I can minimize her contact."

A. Flip them over, says Roberts. Often, polycarbonate plastics -- the ones that contain BPA -- are marked by the recycling symbols #7 or PC. But the absence of these marks is not a guarantee of safety -- if the bottle is hard and clear, check with the manufacturer to be sure.

A. Consider BPA-free alternatives, like glass or softer, cloudy-looking plastic bottles (check out our finds below). "And if you are using bottles made with BPA, try not to microwave them or put them in the dishwasher," says Roberts, since heat can break down the plastic and trigger the chemicals to leach more readily. Also, toss bottles when they start to look scratched -- another sign of plastic degrading. According to one recent report, BPA may leach after as few as 50 to100 washings.

A. There is some evidence that BPA is found in the lining of metal cans, including ready-to-feed formula. "To lessen the risk, it's best to opt for powdered formula, which is usually not sold in metal cans," says Sonya Lunder, MPH, an analyst at the Environmental Working Group. In a paper separate from the NIEHS study, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit found detected some BPA in liquid formula packaged in steel cans from companies including Enfamil and Similac. (Even though powdered formula containers may look like they're metal, most are actually made from a very stiff paperboard material). But if you're not sure whether your container is safe, then hold a magnet up to it, says Lunder. "If it sticks, then the can is metal and you should try to avoid it."

A. BPA isn't just a baby bottles issue, says Phillip Landrigan, MD, a Parents advisory board member and a professor of pediatrics and community and preventive medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. "The chemical can cross the placenta, so if you're exposed during pregnancy, there's a chance it can impact your developing fetus." The best ways to protect your health while you're expecting: Avoid heating and dishwashing food containers made from polycarbonate (flip the storage container and look for the recycling symbols #1, #2, or #5 instead -- all safer forms of plastic) and Nalgene water bottles. "Luckily, BPA is not everywhere," says Roberts. "And there are plastic alternatives that are totally fine for moms and babies to use."

Try these BPA-free bottles:

 

Copyright © 2007 Parents.com.

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.