It's not as though people hadn't begun to suspect there might be something negative linked to the presence of BPA in plastic water bottles and can linings. The Department of Health and Human Services' (DHHS) Safety tips website has an entire page devoted to BPA noting that "BPA is a chemical that has been used for more than 40 years in the manufacture of many hard plastic food containers such as baby bottles and reusable cups and the lining of metal food and beverage cans, including canned liquid infant formula. Trace amounts of BPA can be found in some foods packaged in these containers." http://www.hhs.gov/safety/bpa/
There have been some hints along the way that human and animal exposure to BPA in varying degrees might not be too good. Previously performed studies have linked the chemical BPA to asthma in young children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have compiled data on BPA, otherwise known as bisphenol A, exposure, which show that nearly all Americans have a measurable amount of the chemical in their systems. http://healthland.time.com/2011/10/24/bpa-exposure-in-pregnancy-may-affect-behavior-in-girls/
Findings of a recent scientific study published in the journal, Pediatrics, this week highlight questions about the use of BPA by pregnant women and BPA's effects on their young children. The Time Health™ website, a division of Time Magazine, noted this study "promise[s] to heat up" the debate over the safety of the use of BPA. http://healthland.time.com/2011/10/24/bpa-exposure-in-pregnancy-may-affect-behavior-in-girls/#ixzz1c5RPy6j6
The study, performed by research fellow Joe Braun of the Harvard School for Public Health, found that among "a group of 244 moms with higher BPA levels during pregnancy and their three year olds" (whose BPA levels were also measured), "moms with higher BPA levels were more likely to have children who were aggressive, anxious and hyperactive and showed poor emotional control, compared with moms with lower levels of BPA." The effect was more striking in girls than in boys. "Girls in the study were more than twice as likely as boys to show anxiety and depression if their mothers had been exposed to BPA." The study points to the importance of the relationship of healthfulness in pregnancy to early brain development. Braun stated, "It's possible that the brain is more vulnerable to the effects of BPA during certain parts of pregnancy, such as the early stages, and not as vulnerable later."
Certainly, the results of this study are daunting and something pregnant women should pay attention to, but can we always tell if BPA is in our water bottles or cans? HHS says that we should note that plastic containers have recycle codes on the bottom. "In general, plastics 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." And to minimize exposure, parents and caregivers can do the following:
- Do not put very hot or boiling liquid that you intend to consume in plastic containers made with BPA. BPA levels rise in food when containers/products made with the chemical are heated and come in contact with the food.
- Discard all bottles with scratches, as these may harbor bacteria and, if BPA-containing, lead to greater release of BPA.
Of course, these suggestions are only good if you can identify the bottles and cans that contain BPA. If you can't tell, we suggest that you stick to glass containers of baby foods and/or containers you know do not contain BPA--or containers to use to feed baby, (such as glass or stainless steel or china), that can be washed with hot, soapy water and rinsed before and after using.