Bisphenol A or BPA, a chemical used in the production of polycarbonate plastics, is found in packaging such as baby and water bottles. Studies have shown that infants are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of BPA, which include potential developmental effects, behavioral changes, cancer risks and, in females, early-onset puberty.
In 2008, the Canadian government banned all bottles that contain BPA. Stores like Wal-Mart and Toys ‘R’ Us have already yanked baby bottles made with BPA off their shelves, and many manufacturers have stopped using the chemical in their products. Despite scientific evidence and public controversy, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to ban BPA.
To be safe, if you want to limit your baby’s exposure to BPA, here’s how:
- Bottles made from polycarbonate plastic contain BPA, but how can you tell one plastic from another? Easy. Look on the bottom of the bottle: if the recycle triangle has a “7” or “PC,” it most likely contains BPA. The ZRecs Guide also offers a database of baby products and possibly harmful chemicals.
- Use BPA-free baby bottles and bottle liners. Brands like BornFree, Medela, Dr. Brown’s, Gerber and many others carry BPA-free plastic bottles. Glass bottles are also BPA free. The SafeMama site has regularly updated “cheat sheets” with a comprehensive list of BPA-free bottles and sippy cups.
- Stay away from heat. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, high temperatures break down plastic and leach out chemicals. Washing plastic bottles in the dishwasher or heating them in the microwave can increase your baby’s exposure to BPA. Instead, warm bottles in a pan of hot, but not boiling, water.
- Discard baby bottles that are worn or scratched, advises the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. These bottles can leach out chemicals.
- Avoid liquid baby formula from metal cans — the lining can contain BPA — or plastic containers marked with a “PC.” Instead, choose powdered formula in cans, or liquid formula in glass containers or plastic jugs. See the Environmental Working Group’s tips to avoid BPAs in formula.