They are the most vulnerable among us, completely dependent on us for care, safety, and food. They are our infants and young children and we owe them at least that much. If there is valid concern over the safety of their food supply, it is incumbent upon us to act in their best interests.
Consumer advocates have been sounding alarm bells for years about the possible health risks of Bisphenol A, otherwise known as BPA, commonly found in plastic food containers, baby bottles, and in the lining of metal food and beverage cans, including those containing baby formula.
The chemical has been used in the manufacture of plastic since the 1960s, and some environmental groups and scientists are concerned that it may contribute to cancer, diabetes, and other health problems.
Although the Food and Drug Administration determined in 2008 that these products were safe to be on the market, new studies are causing concern about the health effects of exposure to BPA, especially as it relates to infants and children. Of particular concern are the potential effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children.
The Department of Health and Human Services, through its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is investing in new studies to better determine and evaluate the potential health effects of BPA exposure, including $30 million in studies at NIH. Results are expected in 18 to 24 months.
While awaiting these results, the Food and Drug Administration is supporting efforts to stop the manufacture of infant bottles and cups made with BPA.
In the meantime, the burden for protecting the health and well-being of infants and children falls on the shoulders of parents.The Department of Health and Human Services offers these tips:
- HHS supports the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations for infant feeding and supports breastfeeding for at least 12 months whenever possible, as breast milk is the optimal source of nutrition for infants.
- Discard scratched baby bottles and infant feeding cups.
- Do not put boiling or very hot water, infant formula, or other liquids into BPA-containing bottles during preparation. Always boil in a BPA-free container.
- Read labels about how to properly use plastic products. Make sure to use only containers marked “dishwasher safe” in the dishwasher and only containers marked as “microwave safe” in the microwave.
- Discard all food containers with scratches.
- The six major U.S. manufacturers of baby bottles and infant feeding cups have confirmed to FDA that as of January 2009, they have not manufactured these products using BPA for the U.S. market. These manufacturers represent more than 90 percent of the U.S. market, producing brands that include Avent, Doctor Brown’s Natural Flow, Evenflow, First Essentials, Gerber, Munchkin, Nuk, and Playtex.
- In general, plastic containers that are marked with recycle codes 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 are very unlikely to contain BPA. Some, but not all, plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.
Now it is time for us to be proactive. Please Take Action Today by signing these petitions:
Ban BPA in All consumer Products: Please help to tell the FDA to ban BPA and take an important step into a healthier world!
Tell the Senate: Ban BPA in Baby Bottles: It’s time that we stop exposing our children and ourselves to this toxic chemical. Tell your senators to support the BPA-Free Kids Act, and to stop the manufacture and sale of food and beverage containers for infants and toddlers that are made from BPA!
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Photo: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention