The BPA buzz

What new parents need to know about this commonly used chemical


Emmalee Miller

Although you may have child-proofed your house from top to bottom to protect your baby, there’s probably one item you overlooked—his bottle. During studies on mice, an increasing number of scientists have linked the chemical known as bisphenol A (BPA), found in many baby bottles, with cancer, obesity, weakened immunity and developmental problems.

Word has been out about the potentially harmful effects of BPA for more than a year, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t placed any ban on plastics that include the chemical. Since the effects of BPA have only been tested on animals, it’s inconclusive whether exposure to the chemical actually causes harm to humans.

BPA is also found in cans and polycarbonate plastics, which are used in everything from toys to food containers. Unfortunately, scientists theorize that the most acute effects from BPA may occur during pregnancy or the first few months after birth because of the rapid organ development taking place.

So what should you do?

"At this point, there’s not enough data to be unduly concerned," says Dr. Trevonne Thompson, an assistant director of medical toxicology and an assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital. "Take it on an individual basis and if you’re concerned, minimize your exposure."

Here are some tips to minimize your family’s exposure to BPA:

n Use bottles or food containers made of glass or plastics that are BPA-free.

n Don’t heat food or liquids in plastic containers. When plastics are heated, chemicals are more likely to leak out.

n Don’t wash plastic containers or bottles in the dishwasher.


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