BPA in Baby Bottles: What You Need to Know

As a parent of young children, it seems as though every time we turn on the news or pick up a paper, there's something new to worry about. Now it seems researchers are linking bisphenol A (BPA) to everything from ADHD to cancer. Meanwhile, more than 95 percent of the bottles currently on the market contain the chemical, which can leech into the contents of the bottle and into your child's digestive system. Do you need to be concerned about BPA - and what can you do to protect your baby's health?

Because baby bottles are often an important part of nourishing our children during their first year of life (and even breastfeeding moms may need to rely on bottles occasionally for expressed milk), the recent news about potential health effects of BPA is particularly alarming.

Do you need to be concerned about BPA?
BPA (bisphenol A) is a chemical that is present in baby bottles and many other plastic items that you may be using to feed your family.

You should know that there is some debate surrounding BPA. Some say that this chemical poses significant danger to humans, with potential health effects ranging from hyperactivity disorders to cancer. Others say the alarming claims against BPA are overstated.

Still, it didn't take much research for this mom of three to decide it's worth it to spend a little more on alternative materials, which are becoming more and more readily available.

Those scientists who warn against BPA say that this estrogen-like compound has been linked in recent studies to a whole host of rather serious health effects. They say that studies have linked an elevated exposure to BPA to abnormal developments in male organs as well as an earlier onset of sexual development in girls.

In addition, BPA has been linked to ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and autism. Some researchers say it can also put a child at risk for obesity and type II diabetes.

Many major manufacturers of plastic baby bottles use BPA in their construction. In fact, at the time of this writing, researchers estimate that more than 95 percent of the bottles currently on the market contain BPA, which can leech into the contents of the bottle and into a child's digestive system. The risks are even greater if the contents of the bottle are heated, which is fairly common with baby bottles.

How can you reduce your baby's exposure to BPA?
In general, it's best to avoid all number 7 plastics (though not all of them contain BPA). Opt for numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5 instead.

BPA-free baby bottles are becoming easier to find, so it won't take a lot of hunting (or a lot of extra money) to make the switch to glass bottles (which don't contain BPA) or other BPA-free alternatives.

Evenflo makes a Classic Nurser glass bottle that is available at a cheaper price than conventional plastic bottles, and is entirely BPA free. If your local store doesn't carry glass bottles, you can find them cheaply online.

A few manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to create BPA free plastic bottles. Dr. Brown's, Playtex, Evenflo and Gerber have specific bottles types made of polypropelyne or polyethylene that are BPA free. A few other smaller companies, such as ThinkGreen and BornFree, make BPA free plastic bottles, as well.

You can also help to ensure your child's safety by taking care of the bottles correctly. The problems with BPA occurred mainly with older bottles that had been scratched or worn over time. Make sure that your bottles are washed gently and avoid harsh dish detergents.

If you notice that a bottle or sippy cup has gotten scratched, has bite marks or is otherwise compromised, it's best to toss it out and buy a new one. Although BPA free plastic bottles are considered to be safe, you can never be too sure when it comes to plastic. Considering the fact that these alarming research results came 25 years after these plastic bottles came into the marketplace, you may feel safer just sticking with glass bottles.


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