BPA in infant formula is raising some concerns. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a ubiquitous plastics chemical that is described by experts as being an estrogenic mimicker and hormone disrupter.
Many baby bottle manufacturers have voluntarily stopped using the toxin in their products and many infant formula manufacturers have voluntarily stopped using the chemical—including Similac, Gerber, and Enfamil. But some have not labeled their products as being BPA-free, said US News’ Healthday News; for instance, Abbott, maker of Enfamil.
“In the absence of legislation and mandated labeling, it is hard for consumers to determine which products are actually BPA-free,” Dr. Maida Galvez, an associate professor of pediatrics and preventive medicine at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine, told Healthday News. In an ideal situation, said Dr. Galvez, a system would be implemented in which products are certified BPA-free by a third party.
A combination of phenol and acetone, BPA leeches from food and beverage containers into foods, yet is U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)-approved for use in shatter-resistant polycarbonate plastic and durable epoxy resins, used in food and beverage container linings. BPA leaches into products—hot or cold—and into the skin, from common items such as paper money, toilet paper, and receipts. Working as an anti-androgen, BPA blocks hormone activity; mimics the powerful female hormone, estrogen; and can interrupt sexual development and processes, especially in developing fetuses, infants, and children.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing a petition submitted in March to reverse its approval of BPA in formula containers, said Healthday News. Should the agency prohibit BPA in formula containers, that could create issues for BPA’s replacement, which might lead to other health concerns, according to Robert Rankin, associate director of the International Formula Council, a trade association representing makers and marketers of infant formulas, said Healthday News. “If BPA is not there as a backup plan, you have a potential gap in the supply chain,” he said. The American Medical Association supports BPA alternatives in infant-formula containers.
Galvez suggests parents call baby formula makers if a “BPA-Free” label cannot be found, to determine if the product is free of the chemical. Ask the manufacturer if it tests the product for BPA before releasing it to the public, said Healthday News. Galvez also recommended finding the questionable product in nonmetal can containers and to use powered formulas, which have lower BPA levels; mix the powder in a BPA-free container. Avoid containers with recycling code 7, which indicates the presence of BPA. Also, said Dr. Galvez, dissolve the power in warm, not boiling, water, and Support the Safe Chemicals Act. “Supporting that kind of legislation is what will truly reduce exposure to the entire population,” Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle, noted, said Healthday News.
The studies on which we have written—and hundreds have been conducted—have linked BPA to a wide and growing array of health effects that seem to affect nearly every bodily system. For instance, BPA has been linked to brain tumors and some hormone-sensitive cancers, including breast and prostate cancer. One study suggests that BPA side effects—specifically on brain and social behaviors—are immediate, long lasting, and trans-generational, which means these effects could carry many years into the future. BPA has also been linked to cardiac issues and fat cell confusion and pancreatic issues that relate to diabetes. Studies have linked BPA to increased anxiety and depression, brain cell connection interference and interruptions in chemotherapy treatment, increased risks of immune system diseases and disorders, and liver function testing and intestinal problems.
BPA’s links to reproductive system diseases are dramatic and span to fetal development, likely due to its hormone-mimicking and -blocking properties. Issues include effects on uterine health and mammalian reproduction; a deadly uterine infection; premature puberty; Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and other female fertility and endocrine issues; and erectile dysfunction and male sexual problems.