If you’re anything like me when it comes to buying baby bottles, you’re at a complete loss when confronted with the variety of bottle options available. However, you probably automatically gravitated toward the bottles labeled BPA free.
What the hell is BPA, I wondered. But it sounded ominous. Bisphenol A – which is what BPA stands for – sounds even worse. So, without even knowing what it was, I jumped on the BPA-free train and rode it all the way to the check-out line.
When I got home I did a little checking into this BPA that all bottle makers were so proud not to have in their products.
Bisphenol A has been around since the 1890s. They make hard, clear plastic from it. In addition to food containers, BPA is used to produce some of the epoxies that line cans used for soft drinks, fruits and vegetables.
Turns out that BPA leeches from the plastic or tinned food liners and mimics estrogen in our bodies and messes with our endocrine. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Science, “Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. A wide range of substances, both natural and man-made, are thought to cause endocrine disruption, including pharmaceuticals, dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls, DDT and other pesticides, and plasticizers such as bisphenol A. Research shows that endocrine disruptors may pose the greatest risk during prenatal and early postnatal development when organ and neural systems are forming.”
In terms easier to understand: once ingested BPA can disrupt proper hormone functioning, alter genes and interferes with normal physical and behavioral development. The effects of BPA will be more pronounced in children because they are growing and developing at such a rapid pace. Adults have mature brains and bodies so the interaction of BPA and our hormones/genes isn’t as bad.
Three years ago Canada led the way in banning BPA in baby bottles and last year declared it to be toxic. Although about half a dozen states in America have banned BPA in children’s products, the federal government has taken no action, saying there is no proof of harm in humans. But health and regulatory agencies have concerns about BPA and have commissioned more studies.
BPA isn’t just found in bottles. It’s in toys, vinyl goods, medical equipment and a host of other everyday products like food cans.
To limit your exposure to BPA:
Almost all canned foods (including canning jars) sold in the U.S. have a BPA-based epoxy liner that can leach BPA into the food inside. Pregnant women and young children, especially, should limit their consumption of canned foods to avoid BPA. (If you’re feeding your baby infant formula, use powdered formula because it has the least BPA.)
Buy fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned.
For canned veggies and fruits, choose glass bottles where available; the lids may contain BPA but less than cans.
Rinsing canned fruit or vegetables may reduce the amount of BPA you ingest.
Make a special effort to avoid canned prepared foods like pastas and soups.
Use glass or a BPA-free plastic baby bottles.
Avoid polycarbonate containers (marked with a #7 or PC’), especially for children’s food and drinks.
Use glass instead of plastics. However, plastics marked with a #1, 2, 4, and 5 don’t contain BPA and are generally safer for food.
Don’t microwave plastics or fill them with hot liquids.
Wash plastics on the top shelf of the dishwasher, where the water is cooler, or by hand.
Avoid old, scratched water bottles.
Use stainless water bottles without plastic linings.
Buy fresh to minimize packaging.
For more information about BPA and what you can do to avoid it you can click here to read Rebecca Ode’s article Pregnant BPA Exposure: What You Can Do About It.