By now, you've probably caught wind of the controversy surrounding Bisphenol-A (BPA), a potentially health-hazardous chemical found in many plastic baby bottles (it makes them clear and durable). Though the FDA is not yet advising consumers to discontinue using products that contain BPA, studies have linked the chemical to harmful neural and behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children. As a result, Canada has banned baby bottles made with BPA, Wal-Mart will stop selling products that contain it by the end of the year, and many bottle manufacturers are voluntarily creating BPA-free lines. "I would tell my patients to buy the bottles that are BPA-free because we have some health concerns and we won't know for a while if this is real or not," says Ari Brown, M.D., a pediatrician in Austin, Texas and author of Baby 411. "Based on what we do know, why not avoid it if you can?" Here's how:
- Look at the bottom of the bottle. If you don't know how to tell whether or not the bottles you're using are BPA-free, just flip them over -- if there's a "7" or a "PC" in the recycle triangle, the bottle most likely contains BPA.
- Go glass or frosted. Neither kind contain BPA. Many bottle liners are BPA-free as well. Playtex® will discontinue the use of BPA in all of their products by the end of 2008, and is offering one million free samples of Playtex® Drop-Ins® Original Nurser systems, which are BPA-free (go to playtexbaby.com/bpafree/info.html for yours).
- Switch to a BPA-free plastic brand. BornFree? feeding products are made with Bisphenol A-free plastic and Dr. Brown's Natural Flow® bottles are now available BPA-free, For a list of other brands that offer BPA-free bottles, check out safemama.com, which offers a "cheat sheet" of BPA-free bottles, sippy cups, pacifiers.
- Trade 'em in! Babies"R"Us lets customers exchange used feeding products that contain BPA for another BPA-free bottle or feeding system. Go to toysrusinc.com for more details.
- Minimize the use of liquid infant formula from cans, the lining of which may contain BPA. (Powdered formula cans are fine, as are the plastic jugs of liquid formula.)
Here's how to minimize the risk if your little guy won't switch:
- Avoid heat. "I definitely tell people not to microwave or use the dishwasher, at least not on the heated-dry cycle," says Dr. Brown. Heating is believed to increase the amount of BPA leached out into the liquid. Also try to serve your baby.
- Serve immediately. Don't store any liquid in the bottles before you're ready to feed your baby, according to the Environmental Working Group. The longer milk, breastmilk, or formula sits in the bottle, the more BPA it can collect.