Bisphenol A (BPA)
Bisphenol A (BPA), a synthetic estrogen-like molecule in some plastic baby bottles, has been in the news a lot lately. But the reports have been confusing. What is the bottom line? How do I protect my child?
Bisphenol A is a compound found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resin. Epoxy resins are used to coat metal food cans and bottle tops. Polycarbonate is a hard and clear plastic often used in reusable food and drink containers and in many popular brands of baby bottles. Heat and some detergents can cause leaching of the chemical into the food contained in the plastic. Two other common types of plastic that don’t contain bisphenol A, polypropylene and polyethylene, are typically cloudy and soft.
To date, the evidence is insufficient to make a clear conclusion on the safety of BPA. The U.S. National Toxicology Program has concluded that there is “some concern” that children may be harmed by this chemical. Although there is no direct evidence that exposure of people to bisphenol A adversely affects reproduction or development, studies with laboratory rodents show that exposure to high dose levels of bisphenol A during pregnancy and/or lactation can reduce survival, birth weight, and growth of offspring early in life, and delay the onset of puberty in males and females. However, no studies have conclusively demonstrated that bisphenol A affects human health. Recognizing the lack of data on the effects of bisphenol A in humans and despite the limitations in the evidence for “low” dose effects in laboratory animals, the possibility that bisphenol A may impact human development cannot be dismissed. More research is needed.
To reduce exposure to bisphenol A:
- Steer clear of hard, clear containers, or those labeled with the recycling number 7, some of which contain bisphenol A. Containers labeled with the recycling number 5 are made from polypropylene, while those labeled with the numbers 1, 2 or 4 are made from polyethylene. When in doubt, call the manufacturer.
- Replace BPA-containing bottles if possible. Avoid using worn bottles or heating breast milk or formula in BPA containing bottles.
- Avoid microwaving plastic containers or washing them in the dishwasher. Heat and alkali detergent can increase the likelihood of leaching.
- Use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers when possible.
- Limit your consumption of canned goods and select infant formula cans that contain less metal. Canned powdered formula is preferable to canned liquid formula. Concentrated formula is preferable to ready-to-feed liquid.
- Look for products labeled bisphenol A, or BPA, free.
Source: Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. www.lpch.org
For more information, visit www.niehs.nih.gov.