BPA and Baby Bottles: Should You Be Concerned?

You may have heard that plastic baby bottles aren’t safe because they contain a dangerous chemical. Some studies have shown that a common ingredient in some plastic baby bottles, bisphenol A (BPA), may cause nerve and behavior problems in infants and children.

But don’t panic. An expert panel says that there is some, but not severe, concern about developmental effects in children from BPA exposure. And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not recommended that anyone stop using products with BPA.

The Chemical Culprit

BPA is a chemical used in the production of a type of hard plastic called polycarbonate. It’s used to make water and baby bottles, food containers, and medical devices.

BPA can leak into the liquid or food the container holds. Heating the container may make more BPA leak out.

The Latest Findings

There is “some concern” about developmental effects in children from BPA exposure, according to the National Toxicology Program (NTP). The NTP uses a five-point scale. “Some concern” is the third of five levels. The panel of experts reviewed the research on BPA and recently released an early draft of their conclusions.

Research is limited, the panel cautions. There have been very few BPA studies in humans, so conclusions are mainly based on animal studies. Their findings on risks to children are based on animal studies about the effects in the prostate and mammary glands, and earlier puberty in girls.

The FDA says that BPA-containing products on the market are safe and exposure levels are below those that may cause health effects. The good news is that as of January 2009, some companies are no longer manufacturing products with BPA for the U.S. market.

Ways to Avoid BPA

You may feel it’s better to avoid BPA until more research is complete. Concerned parents can consider these two tips:

1. Buy baby bottles that are BPA-free. These options include glass bottles and BPA-free plastic bottles.

2. Avoid plastic containers with the number 7 on the bottom. These usually contain BPA.

Online Medical Reviewer: Desrosiers, Florence MD

Date Last Reviewed: 4/2/2010

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