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New Warning About a Dangerous Chemical, Bisphenol A, Found in Some Baby Bottles

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There’s yet more news today about the dangers of Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in baby bottles and sippy cups. I’ve written about this here, before. Here’s a quick summary from a Reuters article I found on Yahoo.
A chemical in some plastic food and drink packaging including baby bottles may be tied to early puberty and prostate and breast cancer, the U.S. government said on Tuesday.
Based on draft findings by the National Toxicology Program, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, senior congressional Democrats asked the Food and Drug Administration to reconsider its view that the chemical bisphenol A is safe in products for use by infants and children.
The chemical, also called BPA, is used in many baby bottles and the plastic lining of cans of infant formula.
The National Toxicology Program went further than previous U.S. government statements on possible health risks from BPA.
It said: “There is some concern for neural and behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children at current human exposures.” The findings expressed concern about exposure in these populations, “based on effects in the prostate gland, mammary gland, and an earlier age for puberty in females.”

The Wall Street Journal has the story, too, as well as a link to the actual report.
Here’s a good article from The Washington Post on how to reduce your exposure to BPA. And here’s a blog, Z Reccomends, that has an extensive review of BPA free products (as always, do your own fact-checking on any products).

Some Baby Bottles Leach Bisphenol A, a Dangerous Chemical

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As if you don’t have enough to think (ie. worry) about, here’s one to give you pause. Your baby’s plastic bottle… whether it contains formula or breast milk…could be dangerous to his health. A study by Environment California found that dangerous levels of a chemical called Bisphenol A (BPA) leaches out of bottles made by Avent, Dr. Brown’s, Evenflo, Gerber and Playtex.
Of course there’s a debate about the safety of BPA. The plastic industry, as expected, says it’s perfectly safe. But others say BPA disrupts hormones and is especially harmful to fetuses and young children.
Here’s a good summary from The Green Guide, a site owned by National Geographic.
Depending on whom you talk to, BPA is either perfectly safe or a dangerous health risk. The plastics industry says it is harmless, but a growing number of scientists are concluding, from some animal tests, that exposure to BPA in the womb raises the risk of certain cancers, hampers fertility and could contribute to childhood behavioral problems such as hyperactivity.
According to its critics, BPA mimics naturally occurring estrogen, a hormone that is part of the endocrine system, the body’s finely tuned messaging service. “These hormones control the development of the brain, the reproductive system and many other systems in the developing fetus,” says Frederick vom Saal, Ph.D., a developmental biologist at the University of Missouri. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals can duplicate, block or exaggerate hormonal responses. “The most harm is to the unborn or newborn child,” vom Saal says.
Plastic water and baby bottles, food and beverage can linings and dental sealants are the most commonly encountered uses of this chemical. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stay put. BPA has been found to leach from bottles into babies’ milk or formula; it migrates from can liners into foods and soda and from epoxy resin-lined vats into wine; and it is found in the mouths of people who’ve recently had their teeth sealed. Ninety-five percent of Americans were found to have the chemical in their urine in a 2004 biomonitoring study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

So what can you do to keep your family safe? For your baby, consider using glass bottles. Evenflo makes some. The Green Guide (see the sidebar) also has this advice: “Use glass baby bottles or plastic bag inserts, which are made of polyethyelene, or switch to polypropylene bottles that are labeled #5 and come in colors or are milky rather than clear.”
Here are some other safety guidelines from Environment California and from The Green Guide (see the sidebar).

Bottle Versus Breast

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A couple of weeks ago I got a call from a reporter, Mackenzie Carpenter, at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. She was working on a piece about the “politics” of breast feeding and bottle feeding. It was pretty cool to get her call. As a former reporter, however, I was agonizingly aware of every word I uttered during our conversation. This was the first time I was ever interviewed, and I wasn’t ready for it.
I asked Mackenzie to go easy on me, and she reassured that I shouldn’t worry. Today I got an email from her telling me the piece ran in yesterday’s paper, but that unfortunately my quotes got cut by her editor. Oh well.
Anyway, the story’s headline pretty much sums up the piece– “Bottle vs. Breastfeeding: Cultural Confusion Engulfs Moms No Matter Which Method is Used.” The basic idea is that moms face societal and personal challenges whether they breast feed or bottle feed.
Here’s my take on it. As moms, we question our child rearing choices all the time. Is the baby getting enough to eat? Am I reading enough to the baby? Does he have the right toys? Should he have a play date or is it ok to just be around his older brother? Bottom line, it’s all too easy to feel guilty about the choices you make, and I think breast feeding and bottle feeding are simply an easy flash point for all of that parental guilt to come to a head.
I’m not sure I said anything remotely like that when Mackenzie interviewed me. In fact, when we spoke I was so tired, and so busy breast feeding The Bear to keep him from crying, that I can hardly recall anything I said.
In any case, it was fun to talk to her on the phone. Hopefully, I’ll be a bit more mentally prepared for the next time the phone rings!

Similac Recall

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Similac has voluntary recalled hundreds of thousands of bottles of ready to feed infant formula because they may not have enough Vitamin C.
The recall is for approximately 100,000 32-ounce plastic bottles of Similac Alimentum Advance liquid formula and approximately 200,000 bottles of Similac Advance with Iron. Some hospital discharge kits are affected as well.
The problem seems to be that the bottles are missing a special layer that keeps air out. When the oxygen enters the bottle, it causes the level of vitamin C to decrease over time.
Abbott, the maker of Similac, says there have been no serious medical complaints. But the concern is that if infants drink formula without enough vitamin C for two to four weeks, they could show symptoms of vitamin C deficiency such as irritability with generalized tenderness.
Here is a news story from The New York Times.
You can find the company press release on the Similac website. Look for it at the bottom of the home page. There is a short sentence which says click here for information on the voluntary recall.