Toxic Baby Bottles?
Baby Bargains book withdraws recommendation for
certain plastic baby bottles. Please read the following if you are bottle feeding..
(BOULDER, CO) The authors of BABY BARGAINS, the
country's best-selling guide to baby products (700,000
copies in print), today called for parents to stop
using baby bottles and sippy cups made of
Polycarbonate bottles are made from a chemical called
bisphenol A (BPA). In an article in a peer-reviewed
medical journal last week, a group of 38 scientists
said BPA caused a significant health risk.
Also last week, a federal panel convened by the
National Institutes of Health said there is "some
concern" the chemical could cause behavioral and
neurological problems in young children.
Specifically, parents should stop using Avent's
Natural Feeding Bottle and Dr. Brown's Natural Flow
(or any bottle made of polycarbonate plastic)---these
products were previously recommended by BABY BARGAINS.
"All baby bottles and sippy cups made of polycarbonate
plastic should be avoided," said author and consumer
advocate Denise Fields. "If you are shopping for
bottles, chose an alternative made from BPA-free
plastic or glass. If you have polycarbonate bottles,
throw them out."
So, what is BPA? How is it harmful? See the FAQ below
Q. What the heck is BPA? Why is it dangerous?
Clear plastic baby bottles (as well as some food
containers and water bottles) are made of
polycarbonate, which contains a chemical called
bisphenol A (BPA). It is the BPA that makes the hard,
clear plastic bottles . . . well, hard and clear.
Here's the rub: BPA's chemical bond with polycarbonate
breaks down over timeÂ—especially with repeated
washings or heating of the bottle. As a result, BPA
leaches out of the plastic bottle or sippy cup . . .
and into the liquid (that is, breast milk or formula).
While most data on BPA comes from animal research,
studies show even low-levels of BPA MAY be linked to
everything from early puberty to breast cancer, to
attention and developmental problems.
We wrote a detailed article on BPA and plastic baby
bottles in our Baby 411 book. Click here to read it
online on our web site:
Q. Do we really know that these bottles are dangerous
No, we don't. There have been no human studies on
BPAÂ—so far, researchers have only found problems in
There is a split opinion here among scientists. The
same federal panel that said it had "some concern"
about behavioral and developmental problems in babies
also stated that links to other ailments like birth
defects and adult ailments were "negligible." Of
course, the plastics industry says BPA is completely
That contrasts to the group of 38 scientists who last
week called the health threat from BPA as
But the fact the federal panel said there were "some
concerns" for the health of babies tipped the balance
As parents, we realize it can be hard to decide what
to do when the debate is so heated. As always, our
mantra is "show us the science." We believe enough
science is now in to recommend a change in course.
Q. Isn't it a bit alarmist to say stop using these
bottles? When will we know for certain BPA is harmful
The truth is we won't know for YEARS if there is a
human health problem from BPA. And it could be YEARS
more before the government decides to take some
We have consulted with pediatricians and other experts
before making this decision. The consensus of these
experts is: if concerns exist today (and that is
backed up by reputable scientific research), then why
not limit your baby's exposure to this chemical?
Babies are especially at risk when it comes to
exposure to harmful chemicalsÂ—that's one thing we all
can agree on.
The bottom line: we suggest stop using polycarbonate
baby bottles and sippy cups NOW. Since there are quite
a few BPA-free bottles on the market (see below), we
believe this is an easy call for parents.
Q. The Juvenile Products Manufacturer's Association
said plastic baby bottles are safe.
In a recent statement, the JPMA said the federal
panel's report on BPA "reaffirms the safety of plastic
With all due respect to the fine folks at the JPMA,
we're not sure they were reading the same report we
did. If they did, they would note this sentence: "The
Expert Panel expressed SOME CONCERN that exposure to
BPA causes neural and behavioral effects (emphasis
Click here to read it:
What part of "some concern" did the JPMA miss?
We realize you can argue that the panel didn't call
for the ban of products with BPA. But, that's NOT what
the panel was asked to do. It will now take years of
debate among scientists, researchers and politicians
as to the best course to take with BPA.
The JPMA does a good job at representing the
manufacturers of baby products and lobbying the
government on their behalf. But we would hardly call
them unbiased experts on this subject. In fact, Avent
(the U.S. largest seller of polycarbonate baby
bottles) sits on the JPMA's board of directors.
For the record, Avent told us they believe their
bottles are safe and pose no heath threat to babies.
Q. Which bottles should we NOT use? Which ones are
Polycarbonate baby bottles make up about 90% of the
bottle market. The most common polycarbonate bottle
are Avent's Natural Feeding Bottle and Dr. Brown's
Natural Flow. But other major baby product companies
like Playtex and Gerber also make polycarbonate
Click here to see pictures of polycarbonate bottles:
Here are the alternatives that are BPA-free:
Â• Use glass bottles. Obviously, there is a risk of
injury to baby or mom if the bottle is dropped, so
glass isn't a perfect alternative.
Â• Use bottles made of opaque plastic. These bottles
(made of polyethylene or polypropylene) do not contain
Â• Consider a BPA-free plastic bottle. Born Free makes
a BPA-free clear plastic bottle (Newbornfree.com) sold
at Whole Foods. But these cost about $10 each, twice
the price of Avent bottles.
Â• Use a drop-in system. For example the Playtex
Drop-in System is BPA free (that is, the bottle liners
do not contain BPA). Avent's Tempo liners are another
We have pictures of these on our web page here:
Q. Is there a way to tell if a bottle has BPA?
A. Unfortunately, it isn't easy. Here's a general
Â• Bottles that have a #7 on their recycling label most
likely are made of polycarbonate (and contain BPA).
Â• Bottles that have a #2, #4 , #5 are made of
polyethylene or polypropyleneÂ—these do NOT have BPA.
We call on the government to require disclosure of
which bottles have BPA, so consumers can make an
Q. What about sippy cups? Breast pump collection
A. Basically, the same advice applies: avoid those
made of polycarbonate plastic. Sippy cups made of
opaque plastic are fine. Again, check the bottom of
the cup for its recycling number (#7 should be
avoided). For breast pump collection bottles, consider
BPA-free bottles (such as those from Medela).
Q. I just bought $50 worth of Avent bottles. Are you
saying I should throw them out?
A. Yes. We know this in an inconvenienceÂ—but if you
think about it, buying replacement bottles would run
only $50 to $100. When it comes to safety, we think
this is a worthwhile investment.
In the last printing of Baby Bargains, we realize that
we recommended Avent and Dr. Brown's polycarbonate
bottles and said that polycarbonate bottles were safe.
This was written before the release of the latest BPA
study and federal panel report last week.
We have changed our recommendation on this subject
based on new scientific evidence and the results of
the federal panel discussed earlier. We will be
revising our book in a new printing later this year to
reflect this advice. We realize this is of little
comfort to a reader who just bought $50 worth of Avent
bottles and can't return themÂ—but we owe it to all
readers to get the best and accurate advice out there
as soon as it is available.
(Note: the advice in this update differs slightly from
what we previous wrote in Baby 411 3rd edition. In
that book, we said parents could still use
polycarbonate bottles if they limited washings/heated
drying, etc. Given the latest scientific evidence, we
will revise that book to reflect the above advice to
STOP using these bottles altogether.)
We will continue to blog about this subject. Check out
our blogs here: