Photo by Kate Ter Haar via Flickr.com.
Guest blogger Andrea Donsky is co-founder of NaturallySavvy.com.
As a mom, I know it's not always easy to breastfeed. It's certainly my preference, but sometimes you just need to feed with a bottle. The problem? Some polycarbonate baby bottles sold in the United States still contain Bisphenol A (BPA), a synthetic chemical that mimics natural estrogen.
The good news for new moms is there are bans on ">BPA in baby bottles in many states, counties and cities across the U.S., so you might not have to worry about buying a potentially harmful bottle. And with Senate Bill 695 (SB 695) -- dubbed the "BPA-Free Baby bill" -- Oregon looks to be headed toward a ban that goes beyond the bottle.What's the Big Deal with BPA?
Numerous studies involving lab animals show BPA may be toxic even at low doses. Changes exhibited by animals range from alterations in breast tissue to predisposition of cells to carcinogens to increased sensitivity of prostate cells to hormones and cancer.
BPA has also been linked to reproductive toxicity in lab animals, potential neurological effects in early development, liver development issues, diabetes, and heart disease. If that weren't bad enough, one study suggests BPA interferes with some chemotherapy treatments.
Why is BPA in Baby Bottles a Worry?
When baby bottles are heated, the BPA in the bottles migrates from the plastic into the liquid. Baby bottles are considered a primary source of BPA exposure in infants, and that's cause for concern given that infants can't filter toxins from their bodies as efficiently as adults.
A 2008 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives and conducted by researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada found newborns and infants have as much as 11 times the amount of BPA in their systems compared to adults. Len Ritter, one of the authors of the paper, later said in a news release:
I would advise a pregnant woman to try to reduce or entirely eliminate her exposure to Bisphenol A.
While it's certainly beneficial that moms-to-be limit exposure, babies remain at risk for higher levels of BPA because they have lower levels of the enzymes that help break down BPA.
Glass baby bottles seem like an obvious alternative, but they aren't always realistic. With my second child, glass bottles were my number-one choice--until the day my daughter launched a bottle out of her stroller while we were at the mall, the glass shattering as it hit the floor. Needless to say, I quickly realized there are times, especially as babies get older, when plastic bottles are a must.
Oregon Bill Goes Further Than Other Legislation
Oregon first proposed a ban on BPA in baby bottles last year, but the bill was defeated by one vote. This time around, SB 695 appears to be getting plenty of support in the Senate, according to an Associated Press article.
If the bill passes, Oregon will join a number of cities, counties, states, and countries that have instituted bans on BPA in baby bottles.
A year ago, Canada's ban on BPA in polycarbonate baby bottles took effect, despite the World Health Organization declaring the ban "premature." The amendment to the Hazardous Products Act was instituted because it was determined that polycarbonate baby bottles containing BPA "have the potential to cause harmful effects in newborns and infants up to the age of 18 months."
Similar bans exist in Washington, Wisconsin and other states, and an EU ban took effect earlier this month (Denmark and France had previously instituted bans).
But Oregon's proposed ban wouldn't just cover baby bottles; sippy cups and reusable water bottles are also included in the legislation, and the bill goes a big step further by banning containers of infant formula that are made with or lined with BPA. SB 695 also includes a stipulation that any metal cans made or lined with BPA that contain food must bear a label advising that the can is lined with BPA.
The bill also specifically addresses low-income mothers by mandating the Department of Human Services identify BPA-free child's beverage containers, containers of infant formula, and any other container of food, liquid or beverage that is approved for the Women, Infants and Children Program.
As a mom with a new baby, I couldn't be happier to see a tough stance on BPA in infant products -- after all, it's such a simple way to support our children's health from day one.