Kids Love Dr. Barton

BPA- Bisphenol A

by Dr. Douglas Barton, M.D., Pediatrician 10/30/2008



            BPA- bisphenol A.  What is it and why do I care?  BPA is a chemical that is used in the production of many plastics.  In particular, you can find it in the linings of food and beverage containers.  It is one of the most widely produced chemicals in the world.  Important for parents is that it is used in many baby bottles and sippy cups.  It also lines the metal containers that liquid infant formula is sold in.  There are also small amounts in the containers for powdered formula.    
            There is currently a significant amount of controversy regarding the safety of using BPA in food and beverage containers.  A recent study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/300/11/1303) found associations between higher levels of BPA in the urine and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and liver changes in adults.  Prior studies had suggested the possibility that BPA might cause mild levels of brain damage pruducing such symptoms as attention problems. Other studies suggest that it may act to some degree like estrogen and cause premature pubertal changes.
            On October 30, 2008, a sub-committee formed by the US Food and Drug Administration presented a review of a prior FDA report concerning BPA.  The prior report had concluded that, based on current available literature, the use of BPA at the levels normally seen is completely safe.  This sub-committee basically came back to the FDA the prior statement was inaccurate and that the data that is available is NOT adequate to determine the safety of BPA conclusively.  They noted several small studies that the FDA did not include in the original determination as well as some studies performed after the previous statements by the FDA. 
            Where does this leave the harried parent?  The American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement at the same time that the above mentioned review was released (http://www.aap.org/moc/pressroom/bisphenol.htm).  The important points for parents that wish to take precautions are:

  1. Multiple regulatory agencies currently consider BPA to be safe at current levels of exposure.
  2. Clear plastics and plastics with the number “7” imprinted on the recycling code are most likely to contain BPA.  Use opaque plastic bottles instead.
  3. The most likely ways to increase exposure if you do use containers containing BPA is by heating them or using them with scratched inner surfaces.
  4. Formula is still the safest alternative to breast feeding by far for feeding infants, but you can reduce your child’s exposure by using powdered instead of ready-to-feed formula.
   
 

 

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