Toxic baby bottles

Independent laboratory tests, commissioned by the Environment California Research and Policy Center in the US, have found that most popular baby bottles release a chemical known to be toxic to the nervous and reproductive systems.

Five of the most popular brands of baby bottle on the US market were tested and all five were found to release bisphenol A into the liquids they contained, at levels that have been found to cause harm in numerous animal studies.

Scientists have linked very low doses of bisphenol A exposure to cancers, impaired immune function, early onset of puberty, obesity, diabetes and hyperactivity, among other problems, but manufacturers are not required to give parents even the most basic safety information on toxic chemicals in baby bottles.

In view of these findings, the US Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy makes the following recommendations to parents and other child care providers:

* Never heat food or beverages in plastic containers or bottles, as this can speed up the release of toxic chemicals from the plastic.

* Avoid harsh dishwashing liquids and hot water when washing plastic products, as both speed up the leaching process.

* Ideally, choose glass or a safer form of plastic for baby bottles.

If opting for plastic, check the number in the recycling logo on the base of the item and choose safer plastics with numbers 1, 2 or 4 - e.g. polyethylene or polypropylene - or even 5, rather than 3 or 6, or the most common, but least safe - polycarbonate - which is usually transparent and should bear a number 7. Alternatively, ask the manufacturer about the type of plastic used.

For more information on choosing healthier plastics, see Environment California's Recommendations for Parents and the IATP's Smart Plastics Guide

The Environment California Research and Policy Center report is also useful.

Baby bottle nipples are usually made of either silicone or latex. Silicone nipples, which are lighter in colour and softer, are preferable to latex rubber ones, which may leach carcinogenic nitrosamines.


More research on infant and child health



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