Thursday, August 27, 2009

What's in your Baby's Bottle?

Too bad there aren’t flashing red warning lights whenever you give your baby something that is actually harmful. But there aren’t. Not only that, seldom are there even written warnings. Unless you’re researching everything yourself, chances are good you’re going to do something that won’t be in your baby’s best interest.

Like giving your baby a bottle. Whether it’s formula or pumped breast milk, depending on the bottle you choose, it could be quite dangerous.

The dangers of BPA have been known for years. So why is it that it’s only recently you see manufacturers advertising NO BPA on their products? You know the answer. It all comes down to money. Fortunately, the choices of BPA-free products are numerous for today’s parents. Stores like Whole Foods, and from what I understand, Babies R Us, no longer carry products that contain BPA.

So, what’s the big deal? Why am I even addressing the issue? Simply because many of you may be using bottles you bought when you had your first child a few years ago or so. Or you’re using hand-me-down bottles from your cousin, Lucy, who loads you up with all sorts of baby paraphernalia now that she’s had her tubes tied.

At this point, you probably just want to click out of this site and move on to more pleasant topics. Isn’t there enough bad news in the world today without my having to introduce baby bottle blues as well? Unfortunately, ignorance does not make your child immune to the potential side effects brought on by exposure to BPA.

Up until recently, most plastic baby bottles were made from a hard polycarbonate plastic. These bottles contain Bisphenol A, which can leach into your baby’s milk and affect his delicate system. The danger of leaching increases when the bottle is heated. The worst leaching occurs when bottles are exposed to heat above 80°.

But it’s not just baby bottles that are a concern. Basically any product made of a hard plastic that is clear, not cloudy, is most likely made from polycarbonate. Look for the number 7 in the recycling triangle. Not all #7 plastics contain BPA, nor do all hard plastic bottles, but unless the manufacturer specifies that it is BPA-free, it’s safest to steer clear. If the #7 plastic is soft and pliable, chances are good that it is BPA-free. Sippy cups, can also be a source of Bisphenol A.

Side note for adults: If you’ve been avoiding bottled water and carry your own refillable plastic water bottle around, unless you know for certain it is free of BPA, toss it out and purchase a new one. I picked up a nice one at Target that boasts a BPA-free tag and it’s all I use.

What are dangers of exposure to BPA? Here are just some of the supposed side effects. Whether or not they’re valid remains to be seen. But animal testing has revealed the following disturbing results:

• Early onset puberty. This is because BPA is a hormone disrupter and appears to mimic the effects of estrogen. Naturally, this affects the neurological, reproductive and immune systems.
• Breast and prostate cancer
• Alzheimer’s disease
• Down Syndrome
• Diabetes
• Obesity
• Hyperactivity
• Reproductive problems, including low sperm counts
• Developmental problems

Is the danger of BPA exposure all hype? Maybe. But are you willing to take that risk. Just because it’s still legal to produce it doesn’t mean it’s safe.

To ensure that your baby’s health is not compromised by the bottles you give him, choose glass bottles. There are bottle covers available to prevent breakage (Silikids or The Soft Landing) and you’ll find no dangerous chemicals lurking inside a glass bottle. Plus, glass can be heated and washed in the dishwasher without a problem. Plastic bottles should never be placed in a dishwasher, nor should they ever be heated in a microwave! Heat degrades plastic, which will cause the most seepage of chemicals.

Once you’ve rid your cupboards of the dangerous hard plastic baby bottles, there’s one more thing to be aware of. Many manufacturers of canned formula use BPA-lined cans! Ready-to-feed formula contains the highest threat. You will find PBM, Enfamil, Similac and Nestle all use cans lined with BPA. If you are giving your baby formula, skip the liquid and purchase powdered formula in cardboard packaging. If you must buy cans, stick to the powdered kind.

If you’ve stuck it out and read to the end, take heart. You, as a parent or caretaker, are in control. That’s what your little one’s counting on!

Keeping it healthy and green,



I just discovered today that Health Canada has released a report stating that Dr. Brown's Natural Flow Bottle, an award-winning BPA-free baby bottle, contained the highest traces of BPA when tested for leaching into water. Other products boasting a BPA-free label also showed traces of the chemical when tested. Glass bottles, folks. We have to go back to basics and that means glass baby bottles in this case!

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