Like other pediatricians across the United States, today I received an E-Breaking News Alert from the American Academy of Pediatrics concerning news about bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in many hard plastic products (including baby bottles and sippy cups) and in the lining of many metal cans (including cans of infant or toddler formula). Now the panel of independent experts convened by the FDA has sharply criticized the previous FDA announcements that BPA is safe for infants and children in common exposure amounts. I agree with this criticism, and while there are many questions that still remain about the effect of BPA on kids, I can’t see a scientific basis for declaring it safe. I recommend that parents take prudent steps to decrease their children’s BPA exposure, such as breastfeeding, using BPA-free bottles, cups, teethers, etc., such as those made by BornFree*, and if formula is used, choosing powdered formula where practical (the BPA is more likely to contaminate a liquid), and avoiding heating any BPA-containing container. I also recommend avoiding phthalates and PVC in plastics. For more information, check out Raising Baby Green.
The FDA now suggests that parents who are concerned should discuss the matter with their pediatricians. While the AAP acknowledges the ongoing controversy about the safety of BPA, it alerted pediatricians and provided them with advice to give parents who want to reduce BPA exposure:
Advice for Parents
Breastfeeding is one way to reduce potential BPA exposure. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for a minimum of 4 months but preferably for 6 months. Breastfeeding should be continued, with the addition of complementary foods, at least through the first 12 months of age and thereafter as long as mutually desired by mother and infant.
Parents considering switching children from liquid to powdered formula should be reminded that mixing procedures may differ, so they should pay special attention in preparing formula from powder.
Parents with babies on specialized formulas to address medical conditions should not switch children off those formulas, as the known risks of doing so would outweigh any potential risks posed by BPA.
Concerned parents can take the following precautionary measures to reduce babies’ exposure to BPA:
- Avoid clear plastic bottles or containers with the #7 imprinted on them. Many contain BPA
- Consider using certified or identified BPA-free plastic bottles
- Use bottles made of opaque plastic. These bottles (made of polyethylene or polypropylene) do not contain BPA
- Glass bottles can be an alternative, but be aware of the risk of injury to baby or parent if the bottle is dropped or broken
- Because heat may cause the release of BPA from plastic, consider the following:
- Do not boil polycarbonate bottles
- Do not heat polycarbonate bottles in the microwave
- Do not wash polycarbonate bottles in the dishwasher
- Risks associated with giving infants inappropriate (home-made condensed milk) formulas or alternative (soy or goat) milk are far greater than the potential effects of BPA
Note: Dr. Greene teamed up with BornFree in September of 2008 to help teach families about important issues concerning BPA, phthalates, and PVC.