Studies have claimed that at high temperatures, or when the plastic of baby bottles is scratched or cracked, Bisphenol-A (BPA) can leak out into the milk.
As formula is made up at high temperatures and bottles are repeatedly sterilized and scrubbed clean, the claims are causing concern.
Recent research has also claimed that BPA can lead to behavioural and reproductive problems, bringing puberty forward in girls and reducing sperm count in boys.Canada is banning all baby bottles made with BPA, while California is the latest US state considering curbing its use.
In Europe, although authorities are reviewing the latest studies, they insist, as do the plastics industry, that BPA bottles are safe and do not cause childhood illness.
Current advice on BPA in bottles
The European Food Safety Authority says, “A three-month-old, bottle-fed baby who weighs around 6kg would need to consume more than four times the usual number of bottles of baby formula a day before it would reach the Tolerable Daily Intake [of BPA]. This is the estimated amount of a substance, based on body weight, that can be consumed daily over a lifetime without any appreciable risk.”
How best to prepare your baby’s formula
- Check BPA-bottles regularly
- Don’t use cracked or cloudy bottles
- Don’t put bottles in the dishwasher or the microwave
- Make the formula in sterilised, non-BPA containers and transfer to the bottle when cooled
The alternatives to BPA bottles
- BornFree, Adiri, Babisil, Medela, MAM, Tommee Tippee and Philips Avent now all offer non-BPA bottles
- Asda and Babies R Us only sell non-BPA bottles
- BornFree and I-Play make non-BPA beakers for toddlers
- BornFree, Dr Brown’s, Evenflo and Lansinoh all sell glass bottles
Expert opinion on BPA is mixed
BPA doesn’t pose a risk to health, says Philip Law, public and industrial affairs director of the British Plastics Federation…
“The use of Bisphenol A in the manufacture of polycarbonate is safe and poses no risk to the consumer. This was confirmed by the European Commission in a report published on 11 June 2008. This conclusion confirms the findings of a 2003 European report and is consistent with the conclusion of other regulatory bodies, including the US Food and Drink Agency, the Japanese authorities and the European Food Safety Authority.
“BPA has been exonerated from claims that it causes carcinogenic or mutagenic effects or damages reproductive systems. In any event, the extent to which children are exposed to it in the first place is extremely tiny.”
BPA should be phased out, says environmental campaigner Elizabeth Salter Green of Chemtrust…
“BPA was developed in the 1930s as a pharmaceutical product. An environmental oestrogen, it was developed into the Pill but wasn’t effective. However, when heated and melted, it formed clear plastic, so was used to make babies’ bottles.
“The problem is that it [the BPA] leaks out. Research by Professor Frederik vom Saal of the University of Missouri showed that extremely low levels are very effective at mimicking oestrogen, particularly when the plastic’s heated or scratched.
“Boys between birth and three months experience an enormous testosterone surge, so it’s not a wise time to be exposing them to oestrogenic chemicals. Where you are exposing vulnerable groups such as babies, it should be phased out completely.”