Plastic nursing bottles are now being seen to have similar health hazards to infants and young children as plastic drinking water bottles are to older persons. Studies made by U.S. and other laboratories are linking chemicals found in the plastic material in nursing bottles to be instrumental in causing various forms of cancer later in life, including breast and prostate cancer. In addition, these chemicals, including some known as BPA or Bisphenol-A may also affect a child’s reproduction capabilities later in life.
BPA is defined as an organic compound containing two phenol functioning groups which have a semblance to estrogen hormone. BPA is an important ingredient in the polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins used to make the strong, shatter-proof plastic bottles that people rely on to heat up baby formula. The plastic material in itself is relatively safe when only water or juices at room temperature are poured inside. The problem arises when the formula is heated to a high temperature prior to being given to a baby; as well as when the bottle is washed at a high temperature, as in an automatic dishwasher. The heating process causes the chemicals in the plastic to be released into the fluid inside the bottle which then enter the child’s body and bloodstream. The chemical reactions are similar to what occurs to water inside plastic water bottles which are exposed to high temperatures (when left in a car, etc.)
Warnings of the possible dangers of BPA chemical reactions in infant feeding bottles are now being issued by U.S. government agencies such as the National Toxicology Program. Their findings indicate that these chemical reactions may cause harm to humans, especially children, and result in problems such as early puberty, reproductive problems and even neurological problems.
BPA is found in a number of plastic containers as well as in the coatings often used in a number of soft drink products. Although tests are still being conducted, the main concern is that continuous exposure to BPA could result in a chronic toxicity which will result in the aforementioned health problems.
Plastic infant feeding bottles have been in use for decades, and mothers rely on them to nourish their babies. The dangers of chemical toxicity are now becoming more publicized, and some countries, including Canada, are planning to declare that Bisphenol-A is a toxic substance. Some American states, including California, are also considering the banning of products containing BPA.
As for an alternative to BPA, perhaps the old adage that “breast is best” is in the end the best and safest infant feeding method.