The latest FDA advice on controversial chemical Bisphenol A, or BPA, suggests that we should all take “reasonable” steps to avoid it, though this won’t be easy as the substance is used to make plastics that are virtually everywhere.
Baby bottles, water bottles, sports equipment, medical and dental devices, dental fillings and sealants, lenses in glasses, CDs and DVDs and electronics in the home all have BPA’s.
The chemical is also used in the coatings of almost all food and beverage cans. What’s worse, more than 90% of American have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies, and some estimates suggest the amount of BPA used in the U.S. is equal to about 6 pounds per person, per year.
Back in 2008 the FDA issued a draft assessment that assured us BPA was safe. Only a short time later the National Toxicology Program disagreed and voiced “some concern” that BPA exposure during pregnancy or infancy might be troublesome for long-term health. Official agreement that there is reason for concern over fetus/infant exposure to BPA has just come from the FDA.
What are the worries over BPA?
Experts believe that there are key periods of development when exposure to BPA may lead to certain health effects – behavioral effects, diabetes, reproductive disorders, development of certain cancers, asthma and heart disease that can pass from one generation to the next.
Two earlier National Institutes of Health studies focused on the effects on development and reproduction. The research didn’t look at effects in adults, which is why the NIH officially has “negligible concern” over adult risk of exposure from BPA.
In a news conference in mid January 2010, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, MD, announced the change, and the beginning of a BPA research program costing $30 million, at a news conference. “At this time, we share the perspective of the NTP of some concern of health effects of BPA. This means we need to know more,” Hamburg said. “In the interim, as a precaution, the FDA is taking reasonable steps to help reduce human exposure to BPA.”
This does not mean BPA is banned, or that BPA-containing products are unsafe. Today the FDA is seeking greater regulatory powers to track and control the use of the chemical in industry.
The regulations in place today date from the 1960s, and allow manufacturers to use BPA without telling the agency they are doing so.
At present, the FDA believes the risk of BPA exposure from canned formula is far less than the risks that come from feeding a baby less nourishing food.
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FDA Has Concerns About PBA, But Bans Yet Continued…
What to do if you’re the parent of an infant or toddler concerned about BPA?
- Breastfeed infants for at least a year, if this isn’t possible, iron-fortified infant formula is a safe, nutritious option.
- Inspect your baby bottles or sippy cups for scratches and throw them away.
- Don’t put boiling water in BPA plastic bottles, and mix powdered formula with water boiled in a BPA-free container cooled to lukewarm.
- Warm baby formula by running warm water over the outside of the bottle as opposed to microwaving.
- Be sure bottles or cups are labeled “microwave safe” and “dishwasher safe” before putting them into these appliances.
The American Chemistry Council, a plastic industry group, is disappointed by the FDA recommendations, saying in a statement, “Plastics made with BPA contribute safety and convenience to our daily lives because of their durability, clarity, and shatter resistance.
Can liners and food-storage containers made with BPA are essential components to helping protect the safety of packaged foods and preserving products from spoilage and contamination.”
Also good to know, the six largest manufacturers of baby bottles (about 90% of the U.S. market) are now making bottles without BPA.
Daily Health Bulletin
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