Scientists have called on the government to take action to end the use of controversial chemical Bisphenol-A (commonly abbreviated to BPA) in baby bottles.
“As a medically qualified pathologist and parent to an 8-month-old baby boy, I feel it is essential for the government to heed our call for precautionary measures to limit exposure of BPA to very young children,” said one of the scientists, professor Vyvyan Howard of the Biomedical Sciences Research Institute at Ulster University. The action is backed by Breast Cancer UK and the NCT.
Already voluntarily withdrawn from shelves in Canada and the USA, polycarbonate baby bottles made with BPA (the BPA is used to make the bottles hard and clear) are still available in the UK. Up to now, some scientists and health bodies have argued that the level of BPA leaching from bottles is so tiny it would have no harmful effect.
However, there is now clear and compelling scientific evidence that has linked low-level exposure to BPA with several chronic conditions.
Speaking at a recent conference in London about the effects of BPA, Alan Greene MD, clinical professor at Stanford University School of Medicine, said, “Those that I’m most concerned about include behavioural changes (increased aggression in girls and feminisation of boys), breast and prostrate cancer, early puberty in girls and obesity. I believe BPA does contribute towards those.”
The exposure occurs when the BPA in plastics leeches out into whatever the plastic comes into contact with. These levels have been found to increase when the plastic is heated. Hence the worry over non-BPA-free baby bottles containing hot milk and being regularly sterilised at high temperatures.
Dr Greene says pregnant mothers should take precautions too, as studies of umbilical cord blood have shown that babies are exposed to BPA before they’re even born. “Don’t drink from a polycarbonate bottle during pregnancy. And if there’s one time in your life when you eliminate canned foods, this should be it [as tests in the US have revealed Bisphenol A in a range of US canned food products],” he advises.
There’s no need to panic if you're pregnant though. “It’s just something to make wise choices about going forward,” he adds.
Know your bottles
With so many different types of bottles out there, here’s your guide (courtesy
of our good friends at Born Free) to knowing what’s BPA-free, and how the differently manufactured bottles on the market look and behave, so you can
choose what’s right for you.
PES (polyethersulfone) BPA-free bottle – Transparent bottle with a honey-coloured tinge, high scratch restistance
PP (polypropylene) BPA-free bottle – Bottle looks slightly cloudy, low scratch resistance
Glass bottle – BPA free, transparent bottle, high scratch resistance
PC (polycarbonate) bottle – Transparent bottle, high scratch resistance